Daniel Lints was a kind person who took responsibility seriously. The adolescent from rural Manitoba had a promising future and a kind family. He participated in hockey and frequently went to the neighbourhood pool. He was a typical, content 17-year-old until accepting a message request from what seemed to be a beautiful young woman on Snapchat one freezing day in February. He sent her a graphic photograph under duress. Within minutes, he was the target of blackmail, and three hours later, he committed suicide. This tragedy highlights the importance of being aware of the dangers of online predators.
Unfortunately, Daniel’s story is all too common. Every year, countless adolescents fall victim to online blackmail and extortion, and many of them end up taking their own lives. It’s important for parents to talk to their children about the risks of sharing personal information online, and for everyone to be mindful of the potential consequences of their actions. By working together, we can help prevent more lives from being lost to this preventable tragedy.
Sextortion against boys has been the subject of serious warnings from policing organizations all around the world.
Stephen Sauer, director of Cybertip.ca at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, describes the scheme as clever. On teens’ favourite social media sites like Snapchat and Instagram, organized criminal groups with abroad headquarters assume the persona of young ladies.
Teenagers are immediately approached and given sexual attention. Users take advantage of the young boys’ immaturity and lack of growth by hurriedly requesting a photograph or a video, according to Sauer.
According to Sauer, the anonymous users threaten to reveal the photographs to family and friends if the teenagers don’t pay them money since they are aware there would be a sense of embarrassment.
52,306 complaints in total were submitted to the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Crime Centre in 2020–21, a 510% increase from seven years earlier. Increased internet activity during the epidemic has been cited by experts as a significant cause.
In 2021, there were an average of 20 reports per month of this kind of sexploitation sent to Cybertip, Canada’s tip line for reporting online child sexual abuse. This year, it surged dramatically to 55 complaints each month, and in May, it rose to 75 reports.