On Safer Internet Day, La Strada launches a video spot on sextortion among teenagers

"Together for a better Internet" is the slogan with which Safer Internet Day (SID) is coming this year also in the Republic of Moldova. On this occasion, the Children's Program of the La Strada International Center launches a video spot, aimed to aware the young Internet users, teenagers, about the risks of sharing intimate content online.

As a follow-up to our last year campaign, this year we want to inform teenagers about the hidden faces of sextortion, which are a little talked about, but many young people face.

Data on cases assisted by La Strada in 2018 confirm that for many teenagers to share intimate photos and video is a norm, and that most are not fully aware of the risks of such online behaviours. From the references we receive on, we notice that for teenagers are much easier to write to us than to talk to someone. Children do not want other people to know about their problem. In particular, they are ashamed and afraid of their parents' reaction.

Moreover, one quarter of the cases handled by the Child Mobile Team are cases of online sexual abuse. Often, the situation of abuse has been favoured by a so-called "love relationship". The abuser works very skilfully: he also "worries" about the child's relationships with his parents, friends, colleagues; mimics jealousy, until the child accept him/her in his virtual life as a beloved or trustworthy person. Everything is apparently romantic, until it gets from child intimate photos or videos "as proof of love". Moreover, when the victim refuses to produce such content or does not produce enough, the abuser moves to direct threats.

The truth is that a very few cases are reported to the police, because usually the teenagers prefer not to talk about what happened to them. Most of the time, these cases become known because of compromising materials after they are published on the Internet or after other people (friends, acquaintances, colleagues) are aware of the child's problem. For us this is yet another proof of the fact that we can only together secure a better internet for them.

The spot we are launching today is about the "typical case” of sextortion, about how, when and why it happens. It is a product of public awareness and especially of teenagers. Beyond the less pleasant aspects illustrated by this spot, we want to convey through it encouraging messages to all teenagers who have gone through similar situations:

  • Sextortion is an abuse. Moreover, as in any abuse, the victim does not bear any blame. No reference to how mature the teenager looks "for his/her age" or to the fact that he/she voluntarily sent the images, that he/she made the first step, there is no reason to blackmail him/her or to make it content available to someone else
  • Sharing intimate pictures and videos online means losing control over them. Think about it, even when you are in a beautiful and warm relationship with someone you know very well
  • In any unpleasant situation related to online communication, talk about it with someone you trust. You can always communicate confidentially with a counsellor.

The Safer Internet Day slogan in 2019, proposed by International Organization Safer Internet Day (SID), is "Together for a better internet". Every year, initiators of this initiative join the campaign with actions that stimulate the visibility of the subject, creating useful resources for children, teenagers, parents, teachers and community representatives, encouraging the positive and safe use of digital resources. Over the years, Safer Internet Day has become a landmark event in the online safety agenda. Launched in 2004, SID is now marketed in around 140 countries around the world.

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