Safer internet day online presentation to educate the public about ‘sextortion’

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) — Tuesday, Feb. 7 is safer internet day. This is the 20th year of the worldwide awareness-raising campaign.

In recognition of this campaign, the Pueblo Police Department is partnering with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program to educate the public.

The theme this year is sextortion, with a focus on financial sextortion and making sure young people know they can always get help. Sextortion occurs when children and teens are being coerced into sending explicit images online and blackmailed into sending more explicit content or money. 

“Some of it can be domestic related, sharing intimate images then there’s a falling out and pictures start getting sent out to family members and friends groups,” Pueblo Police Department Special Victims Unit Sergeant Mike Slauttery said. “It could be from juveniles to juveniles. It could be a stranger reaching out to them, finding them and grooming them into sending pictures and then blackmailing them for more.”

The most common age range is kids and teens age 12-17. This campaign is aiming to target families with a goal to start a conversation to help educate, inform, and protect victims about technology safety.

“The more information that’s out there, the safer these kids can be,” Slauttery said. “The families can take care of making sure the internet is safe for their children to be on and start that open conversation. So that any issues that come from potential activities like this can be rectified.”

The campaign aims to reach out to an audience of children and teens, parents, teachers, and social workers. As well as industry, decision-makers and politicians, to encourage everyone to play their part in creating a better internet. Where everyone is empowered to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.

The Pueblo Police Department was involved in 67 active cases in 2022, compared to approximately 50 in 2021. The number is projected to be higher due to many victims not reporting it

As of November 2022, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force team based in Colorado Springs has arrested 92 child predators over the last 3 years. 1 out of 12 kids have exchanged messages with sexual predators, and 3 out of 10 parents allow kids to use the internet without restrictions.

With the rate going up, it is prompting the Pueblo Police Department to get involved in this campaign.

“It’s becoming quite problematic with the technology being so easy to use and people don’t think before they do it,” Slauttery said. “Maybe they’ve got a new boyfriend or girlfriend, share pictures between each other, and next thing they know they’re on the internet.”

Last year nationally, more than 3,000 minor victims, primarily boys, were targeted with sextortion crimes. Between 2019 and 2021, the number of reports more than doubled, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The FBI, in partnership with Homeland Security Investigations and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, have issued a national public safety alert regarding a surge in sextortion schemes involving children.

The online presentation will have ideas and talking points to start and guide the conversation.

The free presentation begins at 12 p.m. and runs until 1:30 online. To register, visit the Pueblo Police Department’s social media or the ICAC website.

Each year safer internet day aims to raise awareness of emerging online issues and current concerns. In past years, safer internet day has covered other technology safety concerns such as cyberbullying, social networking, and digital identity.


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