Important online safety message from Superintendent DeBarbieri
November 1, 2023
Dear Baldwinsville Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers:
As you may be aware, last school year local media reported about students from surrounding school districts who were being threatened and coerced into sending explicit images online - a crime called sextortion. Today, administrators and the School Resource Officer at C.W. Baker High School learned that two high school students were targeted with sextortion through Snapchat and Instagram. Our School Resource Officer is currently investigating these two cases and has reached out to outside agencies, including the FBI, for assistance.
The FBI has seen a huge increase in the number of cases involving children and teens. According to the FBI, sextortion can start on any site, app, messaging platform, or game where people meet and communicate. In some cases, the first contact from the criminal will be a threat. The person may claim to already have a revealing picture or video of a child that will be shared if the victim does not send more pictures. More often, however, this crime starts when young people believe they are communicating with someone their own age who is interested in a relationship or with someone who is offering something of value, according to the FBI.
After the criminals have one or more videos or pictures, they threaten to publish that content, or they threaten violence, to get the victim to produce more images. The shame, fear, and confusion children feel when they are caught in this cycle often prevents them from asking for help or reporting the abuse, according to the FBI. We are proud of our high school students for coming forward and asking for help when they need it from our staff members and we encourage others to do the same. We are here to support our students regardless of where or when a potentially dangerous situation is taking place.
Because student safety within our school district extends beyond physical security, the district would like to remind parents, guardians and students about the importance of online vigilance.
- Do not take, save or share any explicit photos of yourself or others.
- Do not share usernames or password information with anyone.
- Do not open a message or click on a link from an email address or name that you do not know. Delete it immediately.
- Understand that every action taken on social media, and online in general, leaves a digital footprint that does not disappear.
If you or your child feels they may be a victim of sextortion, or any form of cybercrime, please contact the Village of Baldwinsville Police Department immediately at 315-635-3131 or 911.
It is also important to follow these safety tips:
- Immediately change all usernames and passwords that have been shared with anyone.
- Stop all contact with the offender; report and block the predator’s account via the platform’s privacy feature.
- Do not delete any accounts or messages as they could contain information that assists with the investigation.
- Ask for help. Report the situation to a trusted adult, such as a parent or guardian, teacher or counselor. If you don’t feel that you have adults in your corner, you can reach out to NCMEC for support at email@example.com or call NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST.
More information, resources, and conversation guides are available online here.
Lastly, I draw your attention to a national public safety alert about the explosive increase in national sextortion cases issued last December by the FBI in partnership with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Dr. Joseph M. DeBarbieri
Superintendent of Schools