State-by-State Sextortion Laws

Haley Zapal | November 30, 2023 | Digital Wellbeing Internet Safety Tips

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If you’ve heard about sextortion, you know that it’s a potentially devastating crime that can have lifelong repercussions on a family. And if you’ve experienced it firsthand, you’re probably scared, frustrated, and angry. In this blog post, we’ll give you some resources to better understand what it is, along with links to the laws of different states that may address it. 

What Is Sextortion?

Sextortion is a combination of the words “sex” and “extortion” — extortion is using threats or force to coerce someone into doing something. In the case of sextortion, a person is threatened that their nude photos will be released unless they:

  • Provide money or valuables
  • Give more sexual photos
  • Perform sexual acts

The bad actor may have gotten a person’s nude photos with permission or without, in the case of a hacked phone or computer. Individuals can feel immense shame in cases of sextortion, afraid that their family will see the photos and judge them. 

Boys Can Be Especially at Risk

While anyone of any age can become a victim of sextortion, there’s been a recent trend of boys being targeted. In these cases, boys are contacted by what they think are young girls. In reality, it’s scammers hoping to extort money or photos from them after requesting and receiving nude photos from the boys. The results of these schemes have been truly devastating. According to the FBI, more than a dozen boys died by suicide after becoming sextortion victims. 

What to Do If You Encounter Sextortion

Thorn has provided a helpful infographic with what to do if you encounter sextortion. Here are a few of the tips:

Know that you’ve done nothing wrong

Stop responding to the blackmailer and block them. There’s no guarantee that if you comply with their requests they’ll stop. They’re the ones engaging in crime — even if you’ve sent photos or videos willingly before. 

Get support

Text "THORN" to 741741 to speak with a trained counselor who can help you make sense of the situation, validate your concerns, and provide you with options;

Report it

Tech companies can help you remove images and videos from the internet. This removal guide provides details on how to get started. When you state that you’re under 18, companies can take more aggressive actions since you’re underage. 

Save all the evidence

Keep a record of all your interactions — take screenshots, download and save photos and videos, and anything else that helps paint a picture of what’s been happening.

How States Prosecute Sextortion

Some states, recognizing how dangerous and devastating sextortion can be to people, have passed laws addressing sextortion specifically. Other states that don’t have specific laws governing it may use traditional extortion or blackmail statutes to nab perpetrators, in addition to child abuse sexual material charges if the victim is underage.

Need Help Preventing Sextortion?

Bark’s advanced content monitoring scans your child’s photos, videos, text messages, and social media accounts for signs of potential dangers — including sextortion. If your child is exchanging sexual content or receiving threats, you can get an alert so you can check in and make sure everything’s okay.

State-by-State Sextortion Laws

The following links do not constitute legal advice of any kid. They serve as a starting point to guide families to specific sextortion laws where applicable and to traditional extortion, coercion, or other possible statutes in states that don’t have specific sextortion laws. If you have questions about possible sextortion, contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. 

About Bark

Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.