As our online presence increases, traffickers are evolving and looking for new ways to exploit people, especially young people, through gaming platforms, social media, online employment agencies and other online forums. Posing as business professionals, ‘romantic’ partners, teenagers, friends and every-day people, traffickers are actively surfing the internet looking for vulnerable people to exploit.
Cyber trafficking is a growing devastating form of modern slavery. This is when people are coerced or manipulated online by traffickers financially, sexually or to lure them with the false promise of a job, friendship or relationship. This means that a victim could be exploited from the other side of the world.
However, we can stay safe and keep others safe by knowing how to spot the signs of a trafficker online:
* Sends you lots of messages in lots of different ways, through different platforms.
* They may ask you to keep your conversations secret and say that it’s your ‘special secret.’
* They might also ask you if you trust them or make you feel like you can’t trust your friends or family.
* Try to find out more by asking you who else uses your computer or which room your computer is in, to find out if they could get caught by your parents or carers.
* Start sending you sexual messages, for example by saying nice things about your appearance or your body or ask things like “have you ever been kissed?”
* Get you to share personal information, secrets about yourself or to share personal details about where you live or go to school or even seeing them updated about where you are.
* Try to blackmail you to coerce you into sending sexual images of yourself by saying they’ll be hurt or upset if you don’t. If you’ve sent images of yourself already, they could threaten to post your images online or show them to people you know if you don’t send them more.
* They could get easily jealous, controlling and even violent.
* Promise things that seem too good to be true i.e. buying expensive gifts or owning expensive items.
* They could encourage you to engage in illegal activities.
* Is vague about their life or profession.
If you find yourself encountering any of these signs, notify an adult or someone you trust and contact the relevant policing or cyber crime authorities. Use the digital world responsibly and stay safe online!
For more information about cyber abuse and online safety, click here.