Advice for professionals, young people, parents and carers

Financially motivated sexual extortion (often referred to in the media as ‘sextortion’)  is a form of blackmail that can force any individual into paying money to an offender who is threatening to share nude or semi-nude images of them. This can also include forcing them to provide further intimate content or agreeing to do something against their will. Typically perpetrated by organised crime groups operating outside of the UK, sextortion can target any individual regardless of their age or gender.  

In response to the growing concern around the rise of sextortion cases seen from the three UK Safer Internet Centre partners, this page is there to offer support and guidance for how to respond to incidents and concerns. This page is primarily for young people who have been affected but if you are an adult concerned about sextortion, you can find advice from the Revenge Porn Helpline

How does sextortion happen? 

Sextortion incidents can happen through a variety of different ways which can often start by perpetrators masking themselves as other children or by hacking accounts and pretending to be children known by the individual. It can often involve perpetrators: 

  • Targeting young people through social online sites. 
  • Moving conversations towards an end-to-end encrypted platform.  
  • Starting sexual conversations or sharing an initial nude image.  
  • Requesting and pressuring the child for images or videos. 
  • Blackmailing them for money or further intimate content with the threat of sharing images with family members or friends. 
  • Claiming they have hacked their accounts and have access to information, images and videos.  

Advice for professionals  

Best practices for professionals working with young people

Avoid Blame

If a child has approached you with a sextortion concern, always remember that they have done nothing wrong. Avoid victim blaming language and reassure them that you are there to support them and not there to judge or make them feel worse about the situation. 


If a sextortion incident has been disclosed, understand that this is a form of child sexual abuse and needs to be escalated towards your designated safeguarding lead who will then need to refer it to the police and/or the local authority children’s services.   

Work Together

Parents and carers will need to be informed about the situation, but this can bring about feelings of anxiety or concern from the child around how they might react. Talk with them about their preferred approach for how they want their parents/ carers to be notified and try to accommodate where you can. Remind them that everything you are doing is there to support and protect them whilst reaffirming that they have done nothing wrong. 

Take Action

If an incident has happened, you can direct towards online tools such as Report Remove or Take It Down. Both services allow you to report the images and videos directly, and Report Remove also allows you to report a URL (web address) when this imagery has been uploaded to a website. A digital fingerprint – known as a hash – will be created of the images and videos. These hashes are then distributed across participating platforms to prevent the images and videos from being shared. In addition, if you know that the images have been shared across specific platforms, these should also be reported through in-app reporting tools. All Report Remove reports go directly to the Internet Watch Foundation, which is the UK body responsible for assessing and removing this type of imagery. Because the content is classified as child sexual abuse material, do not report it to the Professionals Online Safety Helpline

Advice for parents and carers

Best practices for parents and carers

Stop, Block, Report

If you become aware that your child is a victim of a sextortion incident, it is important to remain calm, to not overreact and remember to be approachable and understanding. It is important to not confiscate their device as this worry might prevent them from asking for help in the future. Make sure that all communication with the offender has been stopped and they are blocked across any accounts where your child might have been targeted. Try and gather as much evidence as you can such as messages or perpetrator details and report the incident to the CEOP safety centre. If there is an immediate risk to the child, contact the police on 999 or 101. 

Don’t Pay

While it can be tempting to pay, blackmailers will continue to ask for money even if an initial amount has already been paid. The best option is to stop communication and not pay anything – if you have already paid, don’t panic, it’s perfectly understandable but don’t pay any more, it will not resolve itself with more money.  

Encourage Communication

Show them that they have done the right thing by coming to you and that you are always there to support and not to blame them for anything. Encourage them to always talk to you if there is anything that concerns them and that you are not there to judge if any problems arise.

Report the image

If an incident has happened, you can take action through online tools such as Report Remove or Take It Down to report images and video that have been shared. It will help to prevent any further sharing across participating platforms. If images have been shared across specific platforms, report them directly using in-app reporting tools.

Resources for Parents and Carers: 

Resources, helplines and research to help you talk about and respond to instances of sextortion with your children.

Advice for young people

Advice for young people

Try not to worry

Regardless of what may have happened, please know that you have done nothing wrong and are not to blame. Those who commit this act are committing a crime and it is not your fault.

Get Support

If you are caught up in a sextortion incident, understand that you are not alone and that there are people there to support you. Whether it’s a parent or carer, teacher, or a trusted adult, try to explain what has happened and feel reassured that someone is now there to help. If you’d rather speak to someone else, you can always phone Childline to get support or use their online chat option if you don’t want to speak on the phone.

Block and Report

If the person is still contacting you, make sure to block them across any platform they might be talking to you on and where you can, report them directly through the apps. If you need support with this, you can work through it with a trusted adult or find out yourself from available guidance from the UK Safer Internet Centre. You can also use Report Remove or Take It Down to report any images that may have been shared online as well as prevent any further sharing across participating platforms.

Share your Online Experiences

Make sure to regularly involve your parents, carers or trusted adults with how you’re navigating the internet. Share with them what apps you might be using or what new things you want to explore. Sharing your experience can always help you remember that people are always there to support if you ever need help with anything.

Resources for children and young people

Resources, helplines and research to help you.

Online issues

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