Amanda Todd’s stalker convicted: How kids can stay safe from online predators | Article

Expert says ‘sextortion’ is on the rise, but there is help


⭐️ HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ⭐️

  • DISCLAIMER: This story is about suicide, sexual violence and online harassment. These are serious issues that can be upsetting or difficult to read. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact Kids Help Phone or Let’s Talk Suicide Canada immediately.

  • In 2012, at age 15, a girl named Amanda Todd ended her life after years of online harassment.

  • The man who stalked her, Aydin Coban, has now been convicted of multiple crimes.

  • These include using nude photos of her as blackmail and spreading them online.

  • Amanda’s story sparked a global conversation about cyberbullying and harassment.

  • CBC Kids News spoke to an expert to find out how kids can get help.

  • Read on to find out what you need to know to stay safe. ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️


After 10 long years, a Dutch man accused of driving a teenage girl to suicide has been convicted.

On August 6, Aydin Coban was found guilty by the British Columbia Supreme Court of extortion, two counts of possession of child pornography, child luring and criminal harassment against Amanda Todd.

A date for Coban’s sentencing hearing — the record that decides his sentence — will be set for Thursday.

Coban spent years stalking Todd, a girl from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, starting when she was 12.

He began by posting nude photos of Amanda online without her consent.

Amanda died by suicide in 2012, aged 15, after more than three years of online harassment and bullying by peers and strangers.

According to Cybertip.ca, an organization run by the Canadian Center for Child Protection, cases of children being blackmailed with nude images are on the rise.

CBC Kids News spoke with an expert to find out what kids need to know to protect themselves from online sexual harassment.

Keep reading for these tips.

What happened to Amanda Todd?

Prior to her suicide on September 7, 2012, Amanda posted a nine-minute video on YouTube, where she used flashcards to share how she had been stalked.

After his death, the video was discovered on his personal channel and went viral. It was quickly covered by news agencies around the world.

To date, it has nearly 15 million views.

Carol Todd, mother of Amanda Todd, holds a photo of her late daughter signed by American singer Demi Lovato. (Image credit: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

In the video, Amanda explained how she would use video chat in 7th grade to talk to strangers online.

A stranger constantly asked her to send nude photos of herself.

He eventually persuaded Amanda to expose her chest during a video chat, where he took screenshots without her consent.

He then used those photos to blackmail Amanda by threatening to send them to friends and family.

Blackmail is demanding something from someone in exchange for not revealing harmful or sensitive information about them.

victim of sextortion

In this case, the stranger, who was later discovered by police to be Coban, threatened to send these photos to her friends unless she sent more.

This is a version of blackmail called sexual extortion or “sextortion”.

According to Cybertip.ca, sextortion is “when someone online threatens to send a sexual image or video of you to other people if you don’t pay the person or provide them with more sexual content. “.

In this infographic, Cybertip.ca highlights recent research they claim shows an increase in sextortion among young people. (Image credit: Cybertip.ca)

In 2010, police informed Amanda that nude photos of her were circulating online.

Then his classmates discovered them.

Amanda began to experience harassment and cyberbullying and had to change schools several times.

During the trial, Amanda’s mother, Carol Todd, wore this pendant which included the initials of her and Amanda’s name. (Image credit: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press).

In her video, Amanda said she was bullied relentlessly and fell into a deep depression.

On October 10, 2012, after trying for three years to escape abuse, Amanda committed suicide.

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How the suspect was arrested

In 2013, Facebook launched an investigation into a person suspected of online harassment.

Coban was arrested in 2014 by Dutch police.

They searched her computers and hard drives and found files associated with Amanda and many other child victims.

In 2017, a Dutch court sentenced Coban to 10 years and eight months in prison for abusing 34 young girls and five men.

Coban was originally expected to face criminal charges related to Amanda’s case in 2018, but the pandemic and other factors delayed his trial in Canada until last June.

After spending seven weeks on trial in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, he was found guilty, although he pleaded not guilty to all charges.

After the verdict, Amanda’s mother, Carol Todd, appeared thrilled.

“If I could say one message to Amanda, it would be that we always believed you,” her mother said.

After his death, Amanda’s mother launched the “Light Up Purple” campaign. Every year on October 10, which is also World Mental Health Day, monuments and public buildings around the world are lit up in Amanda’s favorite color. Pictured is Investors Group Field, a stadium in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 2015. (Image credit: Winnipeg Blue Bombers)

How to protect yourself from sextortion

CBC Kids News spoke to Cybertip.ca director Stephen Sauer about the risks of sharing nude images online.

“Once you’ve sent a sexual image, you really have no control over it, no matter who’s on the other end,” Sauer said.

Even sharing nudes with a boyfriend, girlfriend or partner is a risk.

“It’s not uncommon for us to see images shared in consensual relationships between young people who are now [posted] online,” he added.

If you’re concerned that someone is trying to sextort you, Sauer recommends watching for four red flags:

  • If adults pay attention to you online. Adults should never try to be friends with children in an online environment.

  • If someone immediately returns the sexual conversation.

  • If someone sends a nude image first. If they do, you don’t need to send one back. You should never feel obligated to send a nude picture.

  • If someone you don’t know communicates with you on a social media platform like Instagram, then try to conduct the conversation somewhere private, like WhatsApp. Be on your guard if they ask for your home phone number as well.

Residents of Surrey, British Columbia attend a vigil for Amanda Todd October 19, 2012. More than 40 cities around the world held vigils on the same day in honor of Amanda. (Image credit: Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

How to stay safer

If someone is threatening to leak nude images of you unless you send more photos — or money — don’t, Sauer said. It’s a trap.

Instead, he recommends taking the following three steps:

  • Immediately stop communicating with the person.

  • Disable, but do not delete, your online account. It may need to be presented as evidence in an investigation.

  • Ask for help, either from a trusted adult or from the police. You can also visit needhelpnow.ca or cybertip.ca for more information.

It’s not your fault. there is help

Sauer said that in many cases Cybertip will contact Instagram or other networks in real time to deactivate a stalker’s account. They will also contact the police.

Cybertip staff are also there to help young people and their families through the crisis.

More importantly, Sauer said to remember that if you’re being sextorted, it’s not your fault.

“You might think you’re going to be blamed for this because you shared the image. We want you to know that’s not true. We want to help you,” he said.

Sextortion using fakes

Even if you’ve never shared a nude, you can still be a victim of sextortion.

Last year, the RCMP warned of a new sextortion tactic that uses fake or doctored videos.

How to tell if a viral video is fake

Sauer said the scam “involves a suspect placing an image of a young person’s face on a video or photo so it appears that the young person is naked or engaging in sexual acts.”

The suspect then threatens to send the footage to the victim’s family and friends if they don’t send money or gift cards.

If you find yourself in this scenario, you should stop communicating with the person and follow the three steps above.

Being a victim of cyberbullying? Watch this video to help you

Do you have any other questions? Want to tell us how we’re doing? Use the “Send us your feedback” link below. ⬇️⬇️⬇️


TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Courtesy of TELUS Originals
With files from Eva Uguen-Csenge/CBC, Jason Proctor/CBC,
Vanmala Surbramaniam and Julia Whalen/CBC

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