To mark Best Friends’ Day 2023 (8 June) Netsafe has partnered with our friends at Protect Children in Europe, to raise awareness among young people of the rise of sextortion / image-based abuse and how rangatahi can help their friends in a crisis.[Protect Children is the only organisation in Finland dedicated to preventing sexual violence against children.]
Our partnership comes at a time when reports to Netsafe of sextortion are rising sharply (sextortion is a form of online blackmail whereby a person threatens to share another’s intimate images or videos unless they comply with certain demands).
Netsafe, and Police, are seeing this worrying rise in reports while also being aware that many cases still go unreported. This can be due to victim embarrassment, shame, fear of being judged, or fear of ‘getting into trouble’.
The #MyFriendToo campaign recognised that some of these barriers could be overcome, if young people could be empowered with online resources to help their friends disclose sexual harassment, grooming or sexual violence to a safe adult.
So together, we partnered to create localised messaging to bring the same practical tools and advice to young people here, in New Zealand.
Why are Best Friends important?
Recent studies show that the friends of children and young people are often the first to learn about experiences of harassment, grooming and sexual violence. In her latest research, Lahtinen (2022) emphasizes that children and young people do disclose sexual violence, but mainly to their friends. As a result, the crimes remain hidden from adults and the authorities, and the perpetrators go unprosecuted. At the same time, the friends carry a distressing secret and the child victim remains without the support and care they need.
#MyFriendToo Website Resources:
The campaign website includes:
- Terminology explanations for words like consent, grooming and sexting
- Advice on steps to take if a friend discloses online sexual abuse
- How to tell an adult, and a template email or text message to help write it
- Advice on convincing a friend to get help if they don’t want adults to know
- Legal rights for young people, and what constitutes a crime
- Free links to the “It’s a Big Deal” school activity book by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection
Netsafe’s Social Media Cards:
Feel free to use our social media cards on Best Friend’s Day (8 June) with the hashtag #MyFriendToo and direct people here to this page (netsafe.org.nz/myfriendtoo/) to find out how they can support a friend today.
Our Message for Aotearoa’s Young People
Encourage your friend to tell an adult about what happened!
Sexual violence is never your fault. Only the perpetrator deserves to feel guilt and shame.
Not telling adults never helps the situation. It only helps the perpetrator hide their actions.
We are here for you.
Share the Message
Use our social media cards on Best Friend’s Day with the hashtag #MyFriendToo, encourage young people to see the message, discover the support resources, and report sextortion confidentially, 7 days a week, to Netsafe.