LOS ANGELES, Oct. 3, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building technology to defend children from sexual abuse, today launched a social campaign and educational video, narrated by actress Shay Mitchell, to spark conversations about the pervasive issue of sextortion. Sextortion is a cybercrime that relies on victims feeling too ashamed to ask for help when an abuser threatens to distribute their intimate images. Often the abuser is looking for the victim to create more images, or for a sexual encounter. Sextortion can spark life-altering crises in the lives of young people.
"Too many sextortion victims stay quiet because of shame. We have to spread the word that we have each other's backs," said actress Shay Mitchell. "Sextortion is a criminal act and the blame belongs with one person only – the perpetrator. I want to help victims talk more openly, find resources, find hope and get support."
As part of Thorn's focused research on emerging forms of child abuse, they partnered with the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center to study this crime. Over 1,600 young people participated in this study and 1 in 3 of them had never told anyone about their abuse prior to this research. Shame, embarrassment, and self-blame kept many respondents from seeking help. That is specifically what this campaign aims to change – minimize the shame that keeps victims trapped, by talking about sextortion before it happens.
"At Thorn, we work at the intersection of technology and child sexual abuse and we've been studying the growing toll sextortion is taking on children. This crime isn't discussed enough because it comes with a lot of shame and fear for the victims," said Ashton Kutcher, co-founder of Thorn. "This crime has devastating consequences – including teen suicide. The goal of our campaign is to remove shame, open up a dialogue and educate people."
Thorn's campaign includes a video (http://bit.ly/2hIBwxK), narrated by actress Shay Mitchell, that explores how sextortion happens. Sharing this video is designed to inspire conversations about the issue before it occurs. Visit www.stopsextortion.com for additional resources on how to navigate this issue and information for parents, friends, policymakers and tech companies. In addition, Thorn has partnered with Crisis Text Hotline to provide anonymous crisis support. For help, text THORN to 741741.
To create this campaign, Thorn collaborated with over 40 partners to incorporate their insights and their knowledge into the resources provided. Unique insights were shared by survivors, law enforcement, and organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Kik, After School, Futures Without Violence, NCMEC, Common Sense Media, Family Online Safety Institute and Love146.
About Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children
Thorn, co-founded by Ashton Kutcher, builds technology to defend children from sexual abuse. Thorn partners with nonprofits and academic institutions to gather new insights into the role technology plays in child sex trafficking, the creation and proliferation of child pornography, and the normalization of child sexual exploitation. Thorn then goes beyond insight to action to develop the tools, systems and approaches to help address these issues. Thorn has also created a Technology Task Force — a group of more than 25 technology companies that collaborate on technology initiatives to fight child sexual exploitation. Participating companies include Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Microsoft, Intel, Memsql, Cloudera, SV Angel, Twitter, Expedia, Connotate, Irdeto, Digital Reasoning, Pinterest, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and others. For more information on Thorn, please visit
http://www.wearethorn.org/, follow us on Twitter @THORN and facebook.com/wearethorn.