A Canadian campaign encourages teenagers to respond to requests for nude photos with pictures of naked mole rats.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection reports an 89 percent increase in the past two years in online sextortion cases among teenage boys in Canada. The organization says sextortion happens when “someone threatens to send a sexual image or video of you to other people if you don’t pay them or provide more sexual content.”
The center launched a “don’t get sextorted, send a naked mole rat” campaign in late May targeting teenage boys who may be victims of sextortion attempts. The www.dontgetsextorted.ca site offers resources for boys, educators and parents to discuss online sextortion, with memes and resources featuring naked mole rats as a humorous way to shut down sextortion attempts.
“We’re hoping that this character will be effective in capturing the attention of boys to bring widespread attention to the issue,” said Lianna McDonald, the organization’s executive director. “We want our communications to empower boys to think twice before sending a nude. The threat of sextortion is scary enough, but having the conversation doesn’t have to be.”
The naked mole rat is an African rodent that is pink, hairless and three to four inches long. It’s cold-blooded, feels no pain and can live without oxygen for up to 18 minutes.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection says online sextortion efforts often begin on social media, where teens are approached by someone posing as another youth. Once the perpetrator convinces the teenager to share sexually explicit photos or videos, the person then threatens to share the photos with the boy’s friends and family to extort more photos or videos from them.
“Sexual curiosity and not knowing how to respond to threats of blackmail make teenage boys very susceptible to being duped and exploited,” McDonald said. “The consequences are extremely damaging and awareness is key to prevention.”