A research article published in late September outlined just how significant the issue of sextortion is among young people in the United States. According to the article, “Sextortion is the threatened dissemination of explicit, intimate, or embarrassing images of a sexual nature without consent, usually for the purpose of procuring additional images, sexual acts, money, or something else.”
Approximately 5% of the middle school and high school students surveyed reported that they had been the victim of sextortion and about 3% admitted to threatening others who had shared an image with them in confidence. Prior to the articles’ release, and despite increased public interest in the prevalence of sextortion among teenagers, there was no other empirical examination among adolescents. Sextortion had only been investigated in adults.
Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., a professor in Florida Atlantic University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and one of the articles authors expressed the concern he felt when he realized researchers had not bothered to investigate how this problem affects the most digitally literate people in society: teenagers.