Sextortion and Teens: How Should Parents React?

So what do you do if your teenager is a victim of catfishing or sextortion? Well, we're going
to talk about that today on tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage
family therapist and I specialize in helping kids, teens and families to live happier lives.
I lead two organizations teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit profit 501 c three organization,
Child Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon,
I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's answer today's. Recently,
my 15 year old son met someone online who he thought was a girl. When the girl and him exchanged
nude photos, he pretty quickly realized his mistake. The person demanded money, threatened
to send the photos to his friends and post them online. I'm glad he came to us about it, but I don't
really know what to do. We told him that probably nothing would come of it, but he's having extreme
anxiety. How do we help him? Thank you for a question.

I've had several clients who've gone through this kind of situation, so I just want to help identify
a term. Sextortion. It's like extortion, right? It's basically someone blackmailing another

through money or demanding sexual favors in the threat of revealing their sexual activity
in order to shame them and whatnot. And it's very, very common right now online, especially
with adolescents. And a lot of adolescents don't realize the dangers out there. And it's really
important that we talk to teenagers about these dangers. So the first thing you want to do if
your kid is in this situation, they've sent nude to someone. They get the blackmail text or email,
whatever it is, saying, hey, you need to send bitcoin to this much by this time or we're going
to send these photos to everyone you know, stay calm, stay calm. You don't need to get upset,
don't get angry. It's not going to help him in any way. First thing I need to do is you need to do
is support him emotionally. He is traumatized right now, and approaching his trauma through
shame and anger is not going to help him learn his lesson. Love and acceptance, it will help him
and will help him survive through this. So the first

thing you want to do is make sure all his online accounts are private. After that, once you've
done that, then you may also want to consider contacting law enforcement. Your son's not going
to get in trouble. He is the victim here, right? So whether that's LAPD, FBI, you want to get law
enforcement involved, you may need to get a lawyer involved as well. I don't know, but it may
be worth a call. There are lawyers who focus on this, but from an emotional standpoint, you want
to rally the troops if it's just you and your family who know it's not about shame, it's not about
why'd you do that. We know why he did it. He was drawn in. He was seduced in. It felt real. It felt
important to him. He didn't mean to get catfished. So we can understand why he's there now. We
may not agree with it, but you don't need to communicate that he already knows. He doesn't need
a reminder that it was a knucklehead choice. We've all made knucklehead choices, right? So
when we make a knucklehead choice, getting

the finger wag doesn't make us go, oh, yeah, I guess you're right. We know he knows that you wish
that he did not do this. So come in with the hug the I love you. It's going to be okay. In my experience,
when kids are in this situation, the blackmailers generally do not reveal the photos, number
one, because they're probably interspersed with all his other friends online, and they don't
want to advertise what they're doing. They want to keep it under wraps. So generally they don't
release the photos because it's just a phishing. Someone's going to pay, and as soon as you pay,
they're going to ask for another payment, or they're going to ask for other photos. That's why
it's really important when your kids get online to help them understand these dangers, that
if they are getting blackmailed, it won't stop by saying another photo or by doing another favor
or sending them money. They'll keep fishing you until you stop. There's no way to stop. And most
of these places are often out of the

country. So what law enforcement can do, I don't know. It's not really my area of expertise.
But it's still important to involve law enforcement. Again, your son or your daughter, if your
daughter's in this situation is not the perpetrator, your child is the victim, and that's what
the law says. They will treat them as the victim. So one last thing I know, I feel like there's
one more other thing I'm forgetting. As soon as I log off, I'm like, oh, my gosh, I forgot to say
it. But the most important thing is emotionally, stay calm, stay loving, stay supportive.
And even if those photos do come out, be there for your child. Support your child 100%. Again,
if your child's having a lot of anxiety, maybe talking to a therapist can help. I've had clients
gone through this, and after a while, this is not a big deal. Again, every one of my clients that
have gone through this have never had their photos released. So that's my experience. That's
anecdotal I can't guarantee everyone's experience is

going to be the same way. That's just my own anecdotal experience. So again, approach it from
love, compassion, acceptance, and patience. It's a big topic, and it's a scary topic. Keep
having these conversations about the dangers of online, even though they all say, yeah, that
won't happen to me, make sure you're talking about it, and make sure that they know that if they're
in a pinch, they can come to you and you will accept them wholeheartedly, without judgment,
without know, without any animosity. Again. My name is Kent Toussaint with Teen Therapy Center
and Child and Teen Counseling. If you'd like me to answer your question here on Tips on Teens,
email us at or direct message us right here. We love your
questions. We're here everyone's day and also join our Facebook group called Tips on Teens.
We'd love to have you there and have your comments there too. Thanks again, guys. See you next
week. Bye.


Sextortion, a common online practice, is when someone blackmails another person for money or sexual favors by threatening to reveal their sexual activity online or to friends in order to shame them. Adolescents who may not be aware of the danger are particularly vulnerable to this type of abuse.


If your child experiences sextortion, it’s important to provide them with a lot of emotional support because it can be traumatizing. As a caring parent, it’s important to stay calm and approach the situation with empathy. Reacting with anger or shame will not help them. Finger-wagging will only deepen their shame and potentially push them further away.

If you’re in this situation then this Tips on Teens video is for you:

“Recently my 15 year old son met someone online who he thought was a girl. When the ‘girl’ and him exchanged nude photos he pretty quickly realized his mistake. The person demanded money, threatened to send the photos to his friends and post them online. I’m glad he came to us about it, but I don’t really know what to do. We told him that probably nothing would come of it, but he’s having extreme anxiety. How do we help him?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.