Monday, April 15, 2024

RCMP launches public campaign to empower youth against sextortion

Ottawa (Mar 13) – The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) have joined forces to help the public recognize sextortion, empower young people, and provide assistance through a new poster campaign.

“Being able to recognize sextortion and know where to find help is the first step to stopping it,” the RCMP says in a news release.

“I sent you the pic. I will send this to your friends unless you pay me $500.”

“What? Please don’t. I don’t have any money.”

“How much can you pay? Pay me now.”

The RCMP says that above example is clear: this is sextortion. Unfortunately, it’s a growing threat facing young people, particularly those in the 14 to 24 age range.

“Through our frontline services, we are seeing the flood of Canadian children who are being threatened by sextorters – we are receiving 10 reports every single day about sextortion,” says C3P Executive Director Lianna McDonald. “Victims need to know that they are not alone – our support services team is here to help families and youth who have been targeted and they can reach out to us through Cybertip.ca and NeedHelpNow.ca.”

In the last 18 months, Cybertip.ca received nearly 6,000 reports from victims of online sextortion with representation across all communities in Canada. Cybertip.ca currently receives an average of 10 reports concerning the sextortion of Canadian youth per day. According to an open source analysis by C3P of 6,500 first-hand accounts shared publicly on a popular victim support forum, complying with an extorter’s demands often leads to frequent future demands.

The new poster is accessible at cybertip.ca and can be printed or downloaded electronically. A QR code is featured for easy access to the cybertip.ca website for more information or to access support.

As part of this campaign, the new poster will be shared widely across the country. The campaign promotes several messages including letting victims know they are not alone, there is help available, sextortion is not their fault, and most importantly that there is life after images.

The RCMP and C3P are encouraging everyone to share the poster via their networks and social media channels, to print and post the poster in schools, financial institutions, community centres, recreational complexes, etc. The wider the information is shared, the better chance we have to recognize sextortion and take the steps to interrupt the harm.

“Youth have the power to act against sextortion, and we must help empower them. Education and awareness are important to address this growing threat,” says RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme. “It is critical to ensure that they know the steps that they can take to defend themselves if this is happening. This is not your fault. Do not suffer in silence. There are resources to help you.”

The RCMP works with domestic and international partners to investigate sextortion, and develops public awareness and prevention campaigns to remove the stigma associated with this online crime and advocate for victims, ensuring there is life after images.

All stats are from January 1, 2023 – December 31, 2023.

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