Be careful of who you trust online
The more cautious you are, the safer you'll be
Beware online conversations that seem unusual
These unusual conversations might involve lavish praise, a request for photos of yourself, or a video clip of you dancing. Someone you meet online may approach you, offering enticing gifts or money. These conversations may start with ordinary topics and gradually take a darker and more dangerous turn, often without you even noticing.
The digital realm is not always safe. Anyone, especially young people, could become targets for people seeking sexual gratification, experiences which can have long-lasting adverse effects on your well-being.
Most children and young people who go through these experiences are hesitant to speak out. Often, they suffer in silence, burying what happened deep inside, and living the nightmare continuously.
It's better to be aware of the risks and take a moment to reconsider before things take a wrong turn. Always remember:
#CautionFirst – avoid falling prey to sinister schemes seeking to exploit you.
#ReportSuspicion – seek help or report incidents through available channels.
Remember, if you find yourself targeted by these schemes, you don’t have to face this alone. There is help.
Ever thought of putting #CautionFirst ?
An online pal might just be a plotter with hidden motives. Think twice before accepting online requests or sharing private content.
Are you vulnerable to online sinister schemes? Check your risk level.
The internet broadens our horizons, keeping us updated on new trends and make new friends. However, not everyone we meet online has good intentions, as shady characters can easily approach us with hidden motives.
Take this quiz to test your skill. Pick a scenario, choose your response, and discover your risk level in navigating through potential online threats. Ready, set, go!
Who might be suspicious?
While the internet is a wonderful place to connect with people and learn new things, there are hidden dangers, just like real life! How do you know who to trust? Take the “Who Seems Suspicious” quiz to find out.
Whenever you come across suspicious behaviour online, exercise caution.What you witness could be a sinister scheme employed to gain your trust, often as a pretext for sextortion.
Exercise caution, recognize sextortion.
Sextortion refers to a scheme in which someone - whether it's a person you know, a close friend, a partner, or even a stranger - deceives you into creating explicit images or videos. They then use these materials to blackmail and threaten you, seeking financial and/or sexual exploitation.
These schemes often involve online grooming. It starts with perpetrators reaching out to you through online channels with hidden motives to exploit you. Once they gain your trust, they may ask for revealing images and videos or trick you into explicit displays, while recording it without your knowledge.
Scams can take on various guises. For instance, perpetrators might present enticing job offers or pose as talent scouts promising a chance in the entertainment industry. Another scheme is the Romance Scam, where they feign affection, crafting a false bond under the pretense of love. Subsequently, they often progress to manipulating you into producing explicit photos or videos. These materials are then used as leverage to pressure you into compliance with their demands.
Sometimes, you may take private photos or videos, simply to share with close friends, or due to peer pressure. This carries inherent risks, as the content could potentially serve as a tool for malicious individuals. If these materials fall into the wrong hands, they may be used for intimidation, coercing you into actions you would rather not take.
Moreover, any action you take in the online world, be it searching, posting, uploading, or even clicking 'like' on social media, contributes to your own 'digital footprint'. Even if you believe you have deleted everything, there may still be remnants left behind, as we cannot completely erase our online traces. The internet never forgets. Exercise caution with every action you take in digital spaces.
Exercise #CautionFirst when you see the following behaviours:
- Offering excessive compliments to capture your attention, such as: “You look absolutely fantastic” or "You have a great physique". Exercise caution when you receive unsolicited flattery from an unfamiliar person.
- Sharing personal stories to build trust, pushing you to disclose more about yourself. Then, they might ask about your family, residence, or when you’re usually at home.
- Shifting more ordinary conversations towards specific parts of your body or gradually veering the conversations into more personal, inappropriate, or explicit subjects.
- Offering gifts such as mobile top-ups to online game items, or enticing opportunities for high-income jobs or a chance to get into the entertainment industry.
- Encouraging or coaxing you to move the conversation to a private chat application.
- Coaxing or pressuring you to produce explicit photos or videos of yourself.
If you suspect that someone online is asking you to produce revealing materials, engage in explicit displays, or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, reach out to a trusted person and report it. Seeking help and sharing and reporting is key to stopping sextortion and online sexual exploitation, which is illegal and punishable by 3-7 years in jail plus hefty fines, according to the penal code.
...When sensing something suspicious, follow these steps for reporting:
- Stay calm and immediately cease communication. Try not to respond, or, if necessary, make it clear to the perpetrator that you want them to stop what they are doing.
- Collect all available evidence, including IDs, URL, and account names. Save chat logs, screen shots, messages, images, or relevant videos. Then share these materials with a trusted person, so they are aware of what happened.
- Block communication channels with individuals who are coercive, threatening, or attempting to exploit you. Do not delete social media accounts or messages and materials that may serve as evidence.
- Review and tighten up privacy settings on social media platforms and other applications.
- Seek help and share the incident with someone you trust, whether a close friend, caregiver, or adults you trust – they can help with emotional and practical support.
Report for your friends. Don’t stay silent. You can make a difference.
When a friend or someone close to you falls prey to sextortion, offering support and understanding is the first step. Afterwards, it's advisable to suggest that your friend informs their parents or caregivers or reports the incident to the appropriate authorities for further legal action. Here's how you can go about it:
- Approach and talk to your friend but avoid unnecessary mentioning of the sensitive details of the situation. Always remember that your friend might be in a vulnerable state and may not be ready to immediately discuss what has happened.
- Seek further support from a trusted individual. Clearly explain what happened and request appropriate assistance.
- When collecting and recording evidence, such as video clips, images, or audio recordings, ensure it is done safely to avoid creating additional risks. Try to capture important details and locations. These materials will be crucial in supporting legal proceedings. Refrain from sharing or disseminating them on your own, as it could cause further distress to the affected individual.
- Stay by the side of the person who has been affected. After the incident has occurred, it's crucial to continue providing support, ensuring your friend feels safe, not isolated. Always be ready to offer assistance. Ask if your friend is alright, listen to their needs, and whether they'd like you to communicate or seek help from someone else.
Where to report when facing sextortion or online sexual abuse?
If you suspect that you, or someone close to you, is being threatened or coerced for sexual purposes, do not blame yourself or suffer in silence. Instead, break the vicious cycle of sextortion and report the incident through the following channels.
- Social Assistance Centre | Hotline 1300
- Child Protection Application by Department of Children and Youth
- Department of Special Investigation
- DSI Hotline | 1202 or 028319888
- Website | www.dsi.go.th/th/Eservice/complaint
- Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau, Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, Royal Thai Police
- Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children (TICAC)
- MySis Bot
- Thai Hotline | www.thaihotline.org
- Childline Foundation | www.childlinethailand.org
- The Hug Project | www.hugproject.org
- Take it Down | takeitdown.ncmec.org
- A free service for removing or stopping the online sharing of explicit images or videos taken of you while under 18. It's anonymous and no content sharing required.
If you, or survivors you know, feel uncomfortable, anxious, stressed, or depressed, do not go through it alone. Seek professional support from the 24-hour mental health hotline 1323.
Be there…for those who need help.
Here are ways to support survivors.
- Be mindful when discussing what happened. Communicate positively. Be careful with your choice of words, ensuring the conversations do not turn into interrogations or delve too deeply into sensitive details.
- Following the incident, offering attentive care and actively listening without judgment is crucial. It is common for survivors to experience emotional distress, which may result in increased anxiety, stress, or fear. Providing care and mental support in these moments can make a significant difference.
- You can be their go-to safe zone. This means offering comfort in their day-to-day lives by being present, listening, and approachable, both online and in person, at all times. This will help them regain strength.
- Offer consistent support as they take a journey towards recovery. Continuously affirm their self-worth and instill confidence in them until they can recover.
Recognizing Risks and Ensuring Safety from Online Sexual Exploitation
Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in raising their children's awareness about the dangers of the online world. These lessons can begin from childhood. Parents should help their children to stay informed about vulnerable situations. Parents and caregivers should also think carefully before sharing any information about their children online as some information could potentially be exploited by malicious individuals with harmful intentions towards children, potentially leading to sextortion.
1. Teach children about their bodies and private parts
When children can grasp these concepts, it's important to educate them about different body parts, especially those that are private. Nobody has the right to request to see, touch, or handle these parts. Likewise, a child should not touch the private parts of another child.
2. Teach children that they shouldn't allow anyone to see their naked body
Help them understand that, aside from parents or caregivers who assist with bathing or dressing in their early years, it's not appropriate for anyone else to see their body unclothed. This is inappropriate behaviour.
3. The perpetrator might be someone familiar
Children should be reminded that perpetrators can be anyone, including familiar individuals who are not their parents, such as relatives, teachers, neighbours, or other adults. If someone approaches and tries to lure them with enticing gifts, they should be taught to refuse, cease communication, and leave immediately.
4. Learn to say no when feeling uncomfortable
Teach children that if someone touches their body in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, or asks them to expose themselves, they have the right to say no. Encourage children to be confident and self-assured in asserting their boundaries, or seeking help from a trusted adult.
Observe and Pay Attention
to the signs that a child might be experiencing sexual exploitation. A child may:
- Be unusually quiet or appear consistently sad, with signs of depression.
- Exhibit excessive aggression with emotional instability.
- Use their phone excessively, isolate themselves and or keep personal matters concealed.
- Show reluctance to go home or attend school.
- Complain of discomfort in specific body parts or exhibit visible bruises.