Strategies for Staying Safe Online

It’s June, Internet Safety Month, and the beginning of summer which is a great time to remind caregivers to talk about online safety with their children.

Did you know – according to a report by THORN, Responding to Online Threats:

  • 1 in 5 minors reported having an online sexual interaction with someone they believed to be an adult
  • 1 in 7 9-12-year-olds reported having an online sexual interaction with someone they believed to be an adult
  • LGBTQ+ minors were twice as likely to report having an online sexual interaction with someone they believed to be an adult compared with their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts

According to NCMEC, “Online Enticement involves an individual communicating with someone believed to be a child via the internet with the intent to commit a sexual offense or abduction. This is a broad category of online exploitation and includes sextortion, in which a child is being groomed to take sexually explicit images and/or ultimately meet face-to-face with someone for sexual purposes, or to engage in a sexual conversation online or, in some instances, to sell/trade the child’s sexual images. This type of victimization takes place across every platform; social media, messaging apps, gaming platforms, etc.”

NCMEC has listed the following as the most common tactics used to entice children online:

  • Developing a rapport through compliments, discussing shared interests, or “liking” their online post
  • Engaging in sexual conversation/role-playing as a grooming method
  • Pretending to be younger
  • Asking the child for sexually explicit images of themselves
  • Sending or offering sexually explicit images of themselves
  • Offering an incentive such as a gift card, alcohol, drugs, lodging, transportation or food

National Criminal Justice Training Center of Fox Valley Technical College has a great video for caregivers on three things to consider regarding financial sextortion, which is increasing with boys throughout the country:

Critical 3 Things

What Can Caregivers Do to Prevent Online Solicitation?

  • Talk youth about not sharing nude photos but also talk to them about how no one should ever ask for a nude picture and by asking – this alone should be a red flag.
  • Let your children know they can always talk to you.
  • Reassure them they are the victim and not in trouble.
  • Report to local law enforcement and to NCMEC.
  • Conversation starters – what would you do if someone ever threatened you online? Make sure children know they can always come to you, even if it’s in the middle of the night.
  • If you feel your child may have been a victim of sextortion, here is a great resource:

For more information on sextortion, you can visit our previous blog here: Understanding Sextortion: How Parents and Caregivers Can Help Protect Youth

Safety Tips for Caregivers to Share with Youth:

  • Don’t share your passwords (social media, bank PIN numbers, email, etc.) and avoid posting your location online.
  • Remember that you deserve to be safe.
  • Remind yourself that your worth is not determined by another person.
  • Be careful on social media – traffickers often use social media as recruiting grounds.
  • Come up with a safety plan – what would you do if someone threatens you online?
  • Make sure you tell an adult if this happens, it’s important to block the person, but don’t just block – also report!

Risks for LGBTQ+ Youth

In the same THORN report, Responding to Online Threats, LGBTQ+ youth reported increases in online experiences of being made to feel uncomfortable (+11%) and in online sexual interactions (+8%). Compared with their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts (46%), LGBTQ+ youth (62%) were almost 1 1/2 times more likely to report experiencing a potentially harmful online interaction.

National Support Lines for LGBTQ+ Youth

  • 24/7 support for young people experiencing dating violence
  • Text LOVEIS to 22522

National Trafficking Hotline

  • 24/7 support for people who are being trafficked
  • Text HELP or INFO to 233733 or call 1 (888) 373 7888

Deaf Hotline

  • 24/7 through video phone (855) 812 1001
  • Email and chat for Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled survivors

The Network/La Red

  • 24-hour hotline for LGBTQIA+ people experiencing partner abuse
  • 617-742-4911 (voice) 800-832-1901 (Toll-Free)

Crisis Text Line

  • Text HOME to 741741 for free
  • 24/7 crisis counseling (only English)

Trans LifeLine

  • Peer support for trans folks
  • 9am – 3am CT: 877 565 8860

The Trevor Project

  • 24/7 support for LGBTQ Youth
  • Text START to 678-678