My 12-Year-Old Was Blackmailed for Nude Photos Via Kik Messenger
Him: “Show me what you are wearing.”
I thought it was now or never, so I went to the Sheriff’s office to show them the exchange.
I replied: “Busy”
Him: “Photos you have to take: (here he goes down a list of 5 photos – ranging from a fully dressed to “fully body naked in front of the mirror.” He also included some inappropriate graphics.) You do all that I want and I won’t ruin your life.”
Him: “Do you understand?”
Me: “U need to wait. can’t now. busy.”
Him: “I give you one week to do all those photos. If not next Wednesday I start to post your photos online. Do you understand?”
All this is happening while I am sitting with a Sheriff’s deputy from the Special Victim’s unit. The officers had a meeting while I waited. They discussed the points of the case, and what was being said in conversation while we were watching it happen.
They decided to pursue the case, because the demands of the five photos took the event from “a family scandal” to an assortment of felonies. The police seized my phone as evidence, then followed me home (without allowing me to call my husband and let him know we were coming), interviewed my daughter, took all the internet devices that accessed Kik and left.
A week went by and we finally heard from the detective. He said pursuing this guy was a long shot. Kik normally doesn’t cooperate with US Law Enforcement (it’s a Canadian-based company), and he also said there are 10 cases just like this on his desk. He would keep the case active though.
Another long week in and the detective contacted us again about using our account for a Sting operation. We immediately agreed, and were anxious to hear what the police would tell us next. About three weeks later, the detective said in a surprise move Kik complied with his U.S. Warrant. They got all the information about the user, and surprisingly, he was a minor himself—a 16-year-old boy in London.
Because he’s a minor, the U.S. won’t prosecute him since the crime committed is no longer a felony when both people involved are minors. It’s more like a speeding ticket.
But you know why this was ALL good news to me? Because this month of hell is finally OVER. I don’t have to drag my daughter to depositions or a trial. We know who he is and know we won’t be seeing him. We have closure and know that it wasn’t a trafficking ring or an adult predator, although it is disturbing that there are young kids out there doing this and they most likely have disturbing futures ahead.
My daughter’s photo is now in the database for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. If the photos are to surface, ever, law enforcement agencies around the globe can use facial recognition software to identify victims of internet exploitation.
I keep telling her camp counselor that I owe her a lunch, for if she had she not joked about her “phone,” I wouldn’t have checked her Galaxy for another week. If she had gotten those messages (the 5 demands, sent 12 hours after we discovered the incident) she likely would have done it out of desperation. She truly felt like she had no options because this guy said so.
I am so thankful that this story had what cannot be described as a happy ending, but at least a safe one. The fact that this young girl was so scared of getting caught that she engaged in even more desperate and unsafe behavior is so troubling, but yet so understanding. Who among us hasn’t tried to avoid getting caught by our parents when we knowingly go against the rules? But have the stakes ever been as high?
I did some research of my own, and found some extremely disturbing trends in the way kids are using this app, as well as a few others, and why Internet predators find these such an easy way to get in touch with potential victims.
It literally scared the crap out of me.
I am still searching for the appropriate way for tweens and teens to use the Internet and engage in social media, but I become increasingly convinced that the development of technology far outpaces the maturity of our children.
I encourage you to share this story with your friends and if appropriate, with your children. I encourage you to have meaningful discussions about Web-based behavior and treat it like drinking and driving: There is no instance about social media where they should be scared to tell you what they have done or contact you to help get them out of trouble. And I encourage you to hug your kids tight tonight.
I know I will.
This post was originally post originally appeared on www.playdatesonfridays.com.