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Hochul proposes ways to combat the sextortion of minors

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Cybercrimes, especially the use of the internet to sexually exploit teenagers and minors, remains a prevalent issue in New York. In the book of proposals released with her State of the State address, Governor Kathy Hochul announced plans to combat and raise awareness of sextortion.

Sextortion is when a perpetrator threatens to share a victim’s private and sensitive materials if the victim does not send images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money. Minors are often targeted due to the amount of time spent online and being more susceptible to grooming and manipulation.

According to a 2022 Pew Research survey, 95% of teenagers use social media. 46% of teenagers say they are on the internet almost constantly.

Data from the FBI show that in December 2022, there were over 7,000 reports of online financial sextortion of minors. Out of the reports, 3,000 of the victims were as young as eight years old. The victims were primarily boys.

To address this issue, the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence will develop training and technical assistance programs for support organizations and law enforcement agencies seeking to support victims and investigate sextortion crimes.

The OPDV will also conduct public awareness campaigns on social media platforms by publicizing warning signs of extortion and online abuse.

Lastly, a public-facing website will also be created to provide educational materials for guardians and others. Hochul’s administration says the most impactful way to prevent sextortion is to teach minors about online safety and how to identify signs and red flags of potential manipulation or sextortion attempts.

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