THE CLASSROOM IS A SAFE SPACE, AND WE WANT TO HELP YOU KEEP IT THAT WAY.
You play an important role in students’ lives and as new threats emerge, it is important to stay ahead of the trends. Teens clearly told us that you are often the first line of defense.
Your Next Steps
Learn more and talk about it
Decide how you will handle disclosures
When a student shares a troubling story. As a trusted adult in many students’ lives, there is a chance you will come across situations involving images legally considered child pornography, and you are required by law to report certain situations related to child abuse. Before you come across these situations, make sure you understand the laws and your school policies around mandatory reporting. The first priority is always to keep students safe, and that can require different actions depending on the situation.
Develop a script to guide conversation
We’ve seen some educators create a script to guide conversations, and keep students aware of the implications of what they’re saying.
Here’s something to get you started: “Thank you for trusting me. I can see you’re about to tell me something difficult – I’m here to listen and help, not judge. I want to make sure you’re safe, but need you to know that by law I’m required to report to [specific person or entity] if you tell me anything about [mandatory reporting issues]. That said, I will only speak with the people I need to speak with, and we can talk about who those people are. If that is not what you want, let’s talk about who else in your life you can go to for help right now.”
Talk with students about online safety
and the common ways sextortion happens. We heard from kids that our video felt like it belonged in the classroom – bring it there! To really understand how sextortion happens, the severe consequences and barriers to disclosure, check out our report and infographic here. Make sure that you explain mandatory reporting laws in your state so that when a student shares their experiences they are not surprised by the outcomes.
Talk with other educators about online safety too. You’ve just learned a lot of information that would be valuable for other teachers to understand. Plus, the more unified responses are across all educators, the less confused students will be and the more confident you’ll be in your decisions.
We could bring it to the school. This is talking about an important topic, but it isn’t super heavy and wouldn’t be bad for the classroom. It would be valuable for school counselors.
Be there unconditionally
Kids experiencing sextortion are so scared of getting in trouble. They’re worried about shaming their parents, that they’ll get suspended from school, judged by friends or in trouble with the police. These fears can even be suggested by the abuser to maintain control over them, and sadly these things do happen. These fears keep kids silent, and that has led to terrible tragedies. Even if you think they know you’ll support them, having these conversations can make a big difference in them sharing their experiences with you when something feels off or goes wrong.
Bring curriculum to the classroom
Find the one that is right for your class from one of the many options below:
Love146 works on preventing trafficking and sextortion through education. Find their resources here.
Cybertip CA released a sextortion PSA and developed accompanying lesson plans. Learn more about their work.
NetSmartz teaches kids how to stay safe online and be good digital citizens. Get their curriculum.
Audrie & Daisy focuses on sexual assault that was documented and shared. Watch the powerful documentary and review their lesson plans.
Keep up with tech trends
Talk with students about apps and platforms they are engaging with. Ask them what’s cool or new, and why they like it. The more common these conversations are when there is no abuse happening, the easier it will be to understand when something is wrong, and the easier it will be for students to share what’s happening.
Understand the issue
Learning about how sextortion happens and what to do to help protect your students is an important step in preventing it from happening in the first place.
Share the cat video
Did this video make you laugh, but also teach you about something serious? Share it with your students and with your colleagues so they can be as informed as you are about what sextortion is and how it happens.
Consider hosting an anti-bullying assembly at your school, especially one that focuses on help seeking behavior and healthy and unhealthy relationships. Sextortion often results in bullying, and many of the same tactics used to address bullying can be used to address sextortion.
If you need help text "Thorn" to 741741
A trained Crisis Text Line counselor will be there to support you anonymously.
For Your Friends