Schools urged to warn pupils over sextortion

Schools have been urged to warn their pupils about the dangers of sextortion after a surge in cases worldwide.

Schools have received an unprecedented warning about sextortionThe National Crime Agency (NCA) sent an “unprecedented warning” to thousands of teachers on Monday (29th April) providing guidance about how to support young people and explaining that all age groups and genders are being targeted with sextortion.

Sextortion is a form of blackmail involving threats that intimate pictures will be shared publicly. Often, victims are tricked into sending compromising images of themselves before receiving threats that they will be shared online.

Male victims aged between 14 and 18 currently make up a large proportion of cases – some tragically dying by suicide after being targeted.

Sextortion a “real threat” to young people

Boys make up the biggest proportion of sextortion victimsThe Director General for threats at the NCA, James Babbage, urged education professionals across the country to help the NCA raise awareness of this “callous crime,” which he said was “sadly increasing across the world.”

The NCA guidance aims to breakdown the stigma surrounding sextortion and equip teachers with the knowledge and skills to discuss the topic with parents and carers and advise them how to talk to their children about it.

The NCA have identified sextortion as a “real threat to our young people,” after the number of reported cases worldwide jumped from 10,731 in 2022 to 26,718 in 2023, according to the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The vast majority (91%) of sextortion cases dealt with by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) in 2023 concerned male victims.

The NCA says that organised crime groups based abroad are responsible for most sextortion cases. They explain that these are based “predominantly in some West African countries but some are also known to be located in South East Asia.”

Guidance on dealing with sextortion

In a statement, Mr Babbage said:

“A lot of victims feel responsible but we need them to know this is absolutely not the case; you are not to blame and help and support is available.”

He hopes this week’s alert will help raise the profile of this crime and encourage any young people targeted with sextortion to report it to a trusted adult, the police or the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Safety Centre.

The NCA has advised parents and carers not to pay blackmailers and to stop contact and block whoever is harassing their child, but also warned them not to delete any messages, as they could be used as evidence.

Training to protect children

Sextortion is a real threat to young people and parents and teachers need to raise awareness of itFirst Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years, schools and childcare providers and children’s services. Their courses include Safeguarding Children.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Safeguarding children means protecting them off and online. It’s so important that we are mindful of the harms they could be exposed to online and that there are mechanisms in place to protect them, and to offer them help and support when they need it most.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to