United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama

04/01/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/01/2024 13:53

U.S. Attorney’s Office and National Children’s Advocacy Center Partner to Educate Parents on Sextortion

Press Release

U.S. Attorney's Office and National Children's Advocacy Center Partner to Educate Parents on Sextortion

Monday, April 1, 2024
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Alabama

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - During Child Abuse Prevention Month, the U.S. Attorney's Office (USAO) and the National Children's Advocacy Center (NCAC) have partnered to release a digital series to educate parents and caretakers about sextortion and how they can help prevent kids and teens from being victims. But the commitment does not end there. The USAO continues to prosecute child predators and prevent the proliferation of these abhorrent crimes, but the public's support is needed help protect our children from exploitation.

"Engaged parents and teachers are our first-line defense against child predators," said U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona. "I am happy to come alongside the NCAC to educate parents on such an important topic. As your U.S. Attorney and a mother of four, I encourage parents to put in as many safeguards as they can when it comes to their children using devices. The technological advancements of camera phones - the ease and norm these days of snapping, sharing, and posting images on the various of social media platforms and apps that our youth have access to - has created an opportunity for those with nefarious intentions to take full advantage. Together, we can create a shield of protection around our children and ensure their well-being."

"Young people are vulnerable to sextortion for many reasons that we will discuss throughout this video series," said NCAC CEO Chris Newlin. "Emerging research tells us 60% of the victims know the perpetrator, and these victims are more often male than female. Through our collaboration with the U.S. Attorney's Office, we hope to empower parents with vital tools to guide children through the natural curiosity surrounding sexuality while safeguarding them from people who use these curiosities to cause harm."

This series offers three-to-five-minute videos about current online safety topics and provides essential information about the true dangers of online activities. Presentations from individuals familiar with sextortion and the impact on victims share diverse strategies and resources that parents and caregivers can use to protect their children. The presenters will include leaders from various federal, state, and local agencies. Parents will learn how to start the dialog about sextortion with their child and how to best respond to a child who comes forward to report sextortion. Parents will be informed on who to contact for help if their child has potentially been affected by sextortion or online child sexual abuse. Importantly, the series will explore potential mental health repercussions and explain what to do if a child needs that type of help after being targeted.

A new video will be released every Monday in April.

Monday, April 1 - U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona, Sextortion and the Internet

Monday, April 8 - USAA Deputy Director Trisha Mellberg Cater, Sextortion and Cyberbullying

Monday, April 15 - Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Director Sallye Longshore, Talking with Your Child About Sextortion

Monday, April 21 - ANCAC Executive Director Lynn Bius, Sextortion and the Suicide Risk

Monday, April 28 - NCAC CEO Chris Newlin, Sextortion and Youth Vulnerabilities

The videos can be accessed from the following locations:

nationalcac.org/sextortion-prevention/

https://www.youtube.com/@nationalcac

Anyone can become a victim. The Northern District of Alabama and the National Children's Advocacy Center strive to safeguard all children. To help protect your children from online predators, we encourage parents to:

  • Tell your children to avoid communicating with strangers online.
  • Explain to your children that sometimes predators will offer them gifts in exchange for them taking and sending sexually explicit images or videos. Sometimes, the predators will make threats. Parents should explain to their children that these are strategies abusers use to get what they want, and if this happens, the child should not feel guilty. Instead, they should tell a parent or other trusted adult.
  • To the extent possible, educate yourself about the internet tools your children use. For example, set up your child's specific profile on cellphones, iPads, and computer devices to limit the websites and content your child can access, and have a weekly "usage" sheet sent to you for that profile. Make sure your children use privacy settings to restrict access to their online profiles.
  • Check your children's social media and gaming profiles and posts. Talk to your children about what is appropriate to say or share.
  • Remind your child the world can see what they publicly post on the internet, people can share those posts, and that images can never be fully erased.

Federal offenses charged as a result of sextortion and the sexual exploitation of children are serious federal crimes, carrying severe penalties for offenders and potentially long-term impacts for victims. Some violations carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. The U.S. Attorney's Office has prosecuted and continues to prosecute child exploitation cases in the Northern District of Alabama.

In May 2006, the Department of Justice launched a nationwide initiative called Project Safe Childhood to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

We encourage anyone who suspects or has information regarding trafficking of minors, sextortion, child pornography or any other means of child exploitation to immediately contact law enforcement. You can file a report on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)'s website at www.cybertipline.com, call 1-800-843-5678.

Updated April 1, 2024
Topic
Project Safe Childhood