Transcript for What Your Kids Don't Want You to Know: Teens Exploited Via Technology
We move on to our series what your kids don't want you to know and parenting alert about kids and teens exploited online. T.j. Holmes here with the story of one young wom who has the courage to speak out. George, parents need to hear this. One photo is all it takes. A stranger online convinces your child to send one explicit photo and then uses it to blackmail the child into sending more and more explicit photos. This is the new form of sexual assault and sexual harassment and overwhelmingly our children are the targets. I just wanted to be alone. I felt horrible. Reporter: The pain is still fresh for Bethany and her mom. I'm watching my child just melt and break. As a parent you want to fix it. You can't fix this. Reporter: When Bethany was in high school she says she was a victim of sexual exploitation. I got a text that said I have some photos of you. If you don't do what I say, you're going to regret it. Reporter: For three years, Bethany says she received threatening text messages from an anonymous number. Someone claimed to have explicit photos of her and demanded she send more. Scared, she sent pictures hoping that the harassment would stop but she says it didn't. Oh, send me this. Oh, send me that. If you don't do this you're going to hate the consequences. Reporter: What Bethany describes is called sextortion, according to the FBI it's a growing internet crime where victims often children are coerced into providing sexually explicit images or videos then used as blackmail. The perpetrator is trying to normalize his or her behavior towards the victim. So suggesting that everybody sends nudes and, therefore, it's okay for the victim to do so and that's a process that can take place over weeks, months, even years in some instances. Reporter: Bethany stopped sending photos and then the unthinkable. She says the explicit photos were e-mailed to her family and friends. I was getting nominations for homecoming queen and I had friends inquire and once everything went out I had no friends. Reporter: Police say Bethany was actually tormented by a fellow student at her high school. The suspect, Chris hirtzel in jail facing six felonies including distribution of child pornography. He has not yet entered a plea. When a parent allows a child to go online unsign advised it's basically dropping them on one of the most dangerous corners in the city. Reporter: As for Bethany, her biggest piece of advice, speak out. Tell their parents. They're not going to be mad at you. Whatever you do, don't send those pictures because they can come back and haunt you. Important there. Don't be afraid to tell your parents. T.j. Is back along with Callahan Walsh from the national center for missing & exploited children, Callahan, let me begin with you. The problem is growing and the justice department reached out to you to make a psa to warn parents. We've been tracking these cases since late 2013 and we've had over 1,700 reports to the cybertip line. The majority are females, are young girls and the average age is about 15 years old. T.j., once these photos get out there, what can be done. Not a whole lot unless they go up on an actual website. One of these revenge porn websites but most of the time they're being passed along person to person and you can't track those down. A reminder, don't ever send an ex-bliss sit photo of yourself even if it's that boyfriend or girlfriend you're in love. That young lady had a breakup with a boyfriend. Then he sends it out. If you do, don't be afraid to talk to your parents, but, Cal, what about if people don't -- the kids don't come forward, what kind of warning signs can parents look for. We've talked to many parents and some of the things they've seen, but some of the things this I've seen is a withdrawal from social interaction and social situations and a decrease in energy levels as well. We had one victim required to send over 60 images a night to her predator. 60? 60 a night so if they're staying up late at night you could see that affect them in the morning. It does vary from case to case. If parents do discover this is happening to their kids, the kids come forward, what can they do? They need to report it. Either to the cybertip line at the national center for missing & exploited children and to local authorities, as well. Although sometimes with local police they don't have the resources or the expertise that the national center does but all important to report it. How do they contact you. Missingkids.org/cybertip, cybertip line.
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