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The Issue

Sextortion is a type of blackmail used by offenders to acquire additional sexual content from a child, coerce a child into engaging in sexual activity, or obtain money from a child. Children can sometimes become victims of sextortion after sexting with someone they thought they knew and trusted, but NCMEC analysis has found that children who are victims of sextortion are often targeted and blackmailed by an individual they met online. That person may use deceit, coercion, or another method to obtain a nude or sexual image of the child before blackmailing them for more.

NCMEC’s CyberTipline receives reports regarding suspected child sexual exploitation, including sextortion and has seen a dramatic increase in sextortion cases being reported. 

To learn more about sextortion, visit NCMEC’s Sextortion page, or download this report.

To learn how to have your nudes removed from the internet, visit Take It Down.

By the Numbers

In 2023, the CyberTipline received 186,819 reports of online enticement, the category that includes sextortion.

Between 2021 and 2023, the number of online enticement reports increased by 323%.

What To Do

If this is happening to you, it’s important to remember that sextortion is a crime and you don’t have to go through this alone. We want you to get the support you need. Reach out to a trusted adult, a friend, and NCMEC. To learn more about sextortion, visit NCMEC’s Sextortion page.

Remember it is not your fault.

Some people are so good at manipulating teens that sometimes the teens don’t even realize they’ve been tricked. Then they might be afraid to say anything about it because:

  • They’ve been threatened.
  • They feel guilty and think people will blame them.
  • They think that no one will believe them. 
  • They feel confused and do not know what to do. 
  • They feel alone and do not know who they can reach out to for help.
  • Boys may feel more embarrassed that this happened to them.

It might seem like you would be able to tell if someone online was not who they say they are but reports made to NCMEC’s CyberTipline show that people go to great lengths and are really skilled at pretending to be someone they are not.

Use these tips to help stop sextortion before it begins.

For Children: 

  • Don’t take images of yourself that you wouldn’t want everyone to see.
  • Don’t forward anyone else’s picture or video. Imagine how betrayed you’d feel if this happened to you. 
  • Don’t ask or pressure anyone to share an image. Many teens send sexts because they’ve been asked to by a boyfriend, girlfriend, or crush. But you shouldn’t ask anyone to take this kind of risk.     
  • Talk to a trusted adult or a friend if you receive a revealing image, are being pressured into sending one, or have sent one.
  • Talk to your friends about being active bystanders by not resharing and saying something if someone else does.
  • Do not comply with blackmailing demands such as money or more images.

For Parents:

  • You should start talking about online manners, or “netiquette,” with your youngest children so they have a good foundation for later lessons.
  • You can talk to young children about not trusting everyone they meet online. By the time they’re teens, they’ll be ready to discuss these risks. 
  • Ask questions about their online world and be involved.
  • Tell them that you are always here to help them and if something happens, you will be there for them because they should not go through something like that on their own.
  • Help them identify two or three other trusted adults they can talk to if they do not feel comfortable talking to you.
  • Establish electronic rules: time allowed, free electronics zones (bedroom), free electronic times (dinner, family activities).
  • Learn how to set up privacy settings and how to report inappropriate content.
  • Most importantly have open, respectful, and meaningful communication with your child.

Red Flags

Recognizing the red flags associated with sextortion can help you protect yourself or your family. 

For Children: 

Someone trying to groom you might:

  • Flatter you. 
  • Send you gifts, like cell phones or money 
  • Discuss adult subjects, like sex.
  • Ask you to keep secrets, such as not telling anyone about the relationship. 
  • Turn you against your family and friends – they want you to depend on them.  
  • Share or ask for revealing images.
  • Blackmail you. If you’ve shared revealing images or secrets with someone, they may threaten to make them public unless you send more content or money. Paying the money and sending additional content rarely stops the blackmailing. THE BLACKMAILER COULD CONTINUE TO ASK FOR MORE. Most times payment of money or additional content does not ensure that the images or videos won’t be spread online. THE BLACKMAILER CAN’T BE TRUSTED. Instead, tell an adult you trust and/or report it to NCMEC immediately so they can help report it to law enforcement.

For Parents: 

Red flags could include your child: 

  • Receiving gifts through the mail, such as cell phones, gift cards, and webcams.
  • Calling unknown numbers.
  • Rejecting family and friends in favor of spending time online.
  • Getting upset when he or she can’t get online.
  • Minimizing the screen or turning off the monitor when you come into the room.


'The Healthy Relationships' video can help youth identify exploitive or unhealthy behaviors in relationships that are often a part of various kinds of victimizations, such as online enticement, sextortion, and child sex trafficking.

Healthy Relationships

'I am a Survivor of Sextortion' illustrates some of the strong emotions minors experiencing sextortion go through that prevent them from reaching out for help.

I am a Survivor of Sextortion

'It's called Sextortion' demonstrates how sextortion may occur, identifies some red flags, and emphasizes the importance of peers and friends being upstanders for others.

It's Called Sextortion

SEXTORTION: The Hidden Pandemic

The Hidden Pandemic is an investigation into the world of online grooming and sextortion – a present-day reality for one in seven children online. By unsealing the federal case of a Top Gun pilot with hundreds of victims, and interviewing survivors and their parents, this true crime piece exposes an often-overlooked crime against children, the tactics of online predators, and the voices of parents and law enforcement poised to stop online child exploitation in its tracks.

Module 1 is an introduction to sextortion, the fast growing online crime.

Film Discussion Guide: What is Sextortion?

Module 2 tells the story of S.M., a victim of sextortion.

Film Discussion Guide: The Story of S.M.

Module 3 tells the story of H.M., a victim of sextortion.

Film Discussion Guide: The Story of H.M.

Poster: It's Called Sextortion.
Presentation: Teaching Modern Safety with "Into the Cloud" Season 2
So You Need Some Help...
Sextortion: What Parents Should Know
Into the Cloud: Season 2 Episode Guides

A teen girl is blackmailed into sending more explicit images and video to someone online she thought she knew.

Sextortion PSA

Season 2 of "Into the Cloud" tackles gaming and livestream safety, online enticement and blackmail, cyberbullying, and removing/reporting inappropriate content online. Ideal for kids 10 & under.

thumbnail of NCMEC and Connect logos

Are you a parent or guardian looking for on-demand trainings related to prevention education? Check out NCMEC’s virtual child safety series, Parent Connect, available for free on NCMEC CONNECT. Topics include cyberbullying, online enticement, livestreaming, gaming, sexting, and more! 

Partner Resources

Thorn's No FILTR program logo

The No FILTR campaign seeks to increase awareness about self-generated content, change toxic attitudes around sexting, and equip youth with the knowledge and tools they need to resist online threats. No FILTR incorporates youth voices every step of the way to ensure content is appropriate and effective.


[1] Lenhart, A., Smith, A.., Anderson, M., Duggan, M., Perrin, A., “Teens, Technology and Friendships.” Pew Research Center, August, 2015.