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Streetsboro Library to Hold Programs on Sextortion and Teen Dating Violence | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

Streetsboro – In November 2022, Tamia and Tim Woods of Streetsboro tragically lost their 17-year-old son James to suicide. Too late, they learned that their son was a victim of sextortion, an online crime that’s on the rise.

The Department of Homeland Security Investigations noted receiving over 3,000 sextortion tips in fiscal year 2022. They shared that the current sextortion trend targets boys between 14 and 17 years old. Adult predators pretending to be young girls feign romantic interest in these boys on gaming platforms, apps and social media sites. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Kids, this online exchange progresses quickly, with the predator asking for nude images early on. Once those images are received, the predator demands money, threatening to share those images with the victim’s friends and family unless their demands are met.
These online predators are relentless. In fact, Tamia noted that James had received 200 messages from his tormentor in the days leading up to his death. This mounting pressure led the high school athlete with a winning smile and a lifetime of opportunity ahead of him to take his own life.
Devastated by their loss, the family made it their mission to keep other teens from falling victim to this crime, and hopefully, preventing other families from the pain and loss they’ve endured. In January of this year, the Woods created a nonprofit, the Do It For James Foundation, to share their son’s story and warn parents about this new crime affecting young people. In addition to sharing James’ story, the Foundation will provide scholarships for cross country and track athletes, two sports their son was passionate about. For more information on the Let’s Do It For James Foundation, visit letsdifj.org.

In addition, local families have the opportunity to find out more about the dangers of online exploitation at an event at the Pierce Streetsboro Library on September 11 from 4 – 5 pm. The event is intended for audiences 13 and older and will provide information on what to do if someone they care about is a victim of sextortion.

Jack Lawrence, Young Adult Librarian at the Pierce Streetsboro branch of the Portage County District Library shared, “While the internet isn’t inherently threatening, teens may be unaware of the dangers that are present online.” Lawrence continued, “Hopefully, this program can help them be more knowledgeable about who they communicate with and what information they share online.” Lawrence is hopeful that the program encourages meaningful conversations between parents and their teens.

In addition to the September 11th program with Tamia and Tim Woods, the Pierce Streetsboro will be hosting three other programs in conjunction with Townhall II. A program on Teen Dating Violence will take place on September 25th from 6-7 pm. On October 23rd from 6-7 pm, the program handles the topic of Sextortion, and on November 30th from 5:30-6:30 pm, Townhall II will share details on the Victim Outreach Services they provide.

Each program is intended for those age 13 and up. While each program is free of charge, space is limited; visit portagelibrary.org or call (330)626-4458 to reserve your spot.

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National Cyber Security