Keep scrolling to learn how to help protect yourself and girls you know.
Over a billion users are on Instagram per month
Over 100 million photos and videos are uploaded per day
72% of teens use Instagram
Over one third (35%) of U.S. teenagers prefer Instagram over any other social media platform
Predators are highly skilled at luring and grooming young girls for abuse.
Instagram has quickly become a favorite for predators because so many girls are using the platform. It is vital that you learn the signs of grooming and what to do in these situations.
The trafficker builds a relationship with a potential victim through social media.
Some traffickers use fake profiles. They may also impersonate or use a “bottom girl” to make contact. (“Bottom girl” is a sex trafficker slang term for a victim that is still under the trafficker’s control, but has earned a “higher ranking” among other victims. She may be the trafficker’s “right hand” help for controlling and/or recruiting the other victims.)
Many traffickers use their own personal social media profiles for communication.
Some sex traffickers use fake job offers for modeling, singing, or other potentially legitimate business opportunities to attract victims.
The recruitment may begin with the trafficker commenting on potential victims’ photos and sending direct messages (DMs). This is to build rapport, intimacy and trust with the victim.
“Boyfriending” may be used – a manipulative tactic that involves extreme flattery, fake romantic interests, promises of financial gain, gifts, and even providing help with family issues.
The online relationship will usually end with the trafficker purchasing travel tickets or covering transportation costs in order to meet with the victim face-to-face.
Tricks predators play on you
Normalize friendships between a young girl and grown man
Promise modeling jobs, money, safety, and love
Make the victim feel dirty and unlovable
Normalize sex between an adult and a child
Isolate and control the victim
This list is not exhaustive. If you get something from someone that makes you feel uncomfortable, weird, or unsafe. Tell an adult you trust about it.
What to do if these happen?
The best thing to do in these situations is to never respond to them, even if they seem totally innocent. Research tells us that online sexual abusers rely highly on participation from the victim, their goal is to get you talking so they can manipulate you -- You might be thinking "Not me I feel like I'm pretty smart" but these predators are highly skilled at manipulating you. They've probably done it hundreds of times to hundreds of girls so you need to be on full alert and never respond.
Delete the message or comment, block the sender, and report the account.
If they send you something that makes you feel really unsafe such as knowing something private about you or threatening you, please tell an adult you trust about it.
Remember: You are worthy of receiving love in a healthy and safe way. Please don't accept just any attention and don't believe the lies they tell you! You are worth more and I promise you -- what these predators give out is not love, protection, friendship, or anything of the sort.
Don't let anyone you don't personally know follow you!
Don't post pictures with your home address, well-known landmarks near your house or neighborhood. Try to keep school uniforms out of pictures as well. Many predators have tracked girls down by figuring out where they went to school by their uniform picture.
Don't post pictures or videos of you that are scandalous. It's sad and gross but your cute bikini picture could be used as child pornography.
DMS / Comments
Don't engage with creepy messages. Just quickly delete them and block the account that sent them.
Don't click links that seem weird, even if it's from someone you know!
Never meet up with someone random you met up with online. Even if they claim to be a modeling scout, friend of a friend, or any other claim. If you want to go because you feel like it is a legitimate job always bring an adult!! PS. Your 16-year-old bff does not count! Having your mom or someone older there could literally save your life if the job wasn't legitimate.
Reminders + Tips
Turn on Hide Offensive Comments, set up your manual filter, and turn on Filter Most Reported Words
Only allow tags from people you follow
Turn on message replies from people you follow
Find someone you know and trust that you can have open conversations with about life with. If you don't have someone like this, find a women you admire (maybe it's a lady from your church, or a teacher, or a neighbor) and ask her to be that person, and ask her to check in on you. It might feel awkward, but it really is worth it. If you cannot find anyone, our chat is always open. We're here for you!
any Attention doesn't = good attention
Attention from older guys might make you feel important or pretty for a time, but I promise you that is not the attention you want. Those are predators, they don't care about you they just want something from you.
it's not shameful
If you have engaged in conversation with an adult online that turned sexual or been tricked by them, it is not shameful. You are not dirty or unlovable. You are the same person as you were before that happened. Talk to someone about it, someone who really cares about you.
Things to look out for: August Edition
Predators search hashtags that might lead them to a young child's photo. A big way to keep your photos safe from creeps is to stop using hashtags.
Hashtags that you would use under a beach picture or that tell people where you are located are often searched by these predators.
Try to not use hashtags like #beach #middleschool #tan #summer #bikini #location