Before the holiday, news outlets broke stories of widespread sexual predation of children on popular social media and gaming sites. According to the New York Times, some virtual connections escalate to sexual abuse surprisingly quickly. The offender contacts a child, often posing as another kid, perhaps someone they know, or by attempting to create a romantic relationship. They build trust, and sometimes send graphic images to desensitize the child. Before long, the offender is eliciting graphic pictures and using threats to extort more graphic and violent images. This is happening across the country, to boys and girls. Many professionals believe it is not IF a child will be contacted by a criminal online, but when. The impact of these interactions are overwhelming and traumatic, sometimes leading to suicide or attempted suicide. According to a 2016 report, the Justice Department identified sextortion as “by far the most significantly growing threat to children.”
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