Daniel Lints was kind and responsible with a witty sense of humor. The rural teenager from Manitoba had a bright future and a loving family. He played hockey and was a regular at the nearby public pool.
He was a normal and happy 17 year old until one cold day in February he accepted a request for a message from an attractive young woman on Snapchat.
She forced him to send a candid image. A few minutes later he was blackmailed, and three hours later he committed suicide.
“I feel like he was killed,” says Derek Lints, Daniel’s father, with tears streaming down his cheeks.
Lints and his wife Jill say they are dealing with an unimaginable tragedy. Daniel, who most people called Danny, is the victim of a growing global sex extortion scheme that mainly targets teenage boys.
“I know Danny would change the world,” says Jill Lints, sitting at the family kitchen table in Pilot Mound, Maine, 110 miles southwest of Winnipeg.
“He would do something good, and he has already done good. The world has lost a good man.”
Young people are vulnerable
Police agencies around the world are issuing urgent warnings about sexual extortion against boys.
The trick is subtle, says Steven Sauer, director of Cybertip.ca at the Canadian Child Welfare Center. Organized crime groups based abroad are posing as young women on social networks used by teenagers such as Snapchat and Instagram.
They are drawn to teenagers and quickly give them sexual attention. According to Sauer, users take advantage of the level of development and impulsiveness of the boys and hastily ask for an image or video.
Then the threats begin.
Sauer says that anonymous users, knowing they would be embarrassed, say they will send the images to family and friends if the teens don’t give them money.
“Young people are particularly vulnerable to this.” He says. “They are still developing their sense of self.
still developing their personalities and often engaging in sexual exploration.”
Many teenagers, like Danny, empty their bank accounts. But all too often, when the blackmail continues, they take their own lives.
Where to get help
Visit Canada’s National Cybersecurity Line Cybertip.ca to report online sexual abuse/exploitation, sharing of intimate images without consent, or other forms of child victimization online.
If you know of a child in imminent danger or risk, call 911 or your local police.
The RCMP National Center for Combating Child Exploitation received a total of 52,306 complaints in 2020-2021, up 510% from seven years ago. Experts have pointed to the increase in online activity during the pandemic as one of the factors.
Cybertip, Canada’s online child sexual abuse reporting service, received an average of 20 reports per month of such abuse.
sex exploitation in 2021. This year, the number of messages has grown to 55 per month, and in May it increased to 75 messages.
Mountain dwellers from coast to coast issued warnings. Earlier this month, Calgary police warned they had about 50 cases since the start of the year in that city alone. “We believe these crimes are significantly under-reported,” the staff sergeant said. Graham Smiley said.
- Calgary police warn of cat-catching scam targeting teenage boys
- Online victimization of young people has increased by 37%, according to the Canadian Center for Child Welfare.
Police are asking parents to talk to their children about online risks. The RCMP says that any victim of sexual exploitation must stop communicating with the instigator and notify a trustee, Cybertip or the police.
Danny’s parents say at least two more boys from their small community in Manitoba were targeted in the months following their son’s death.
Pilot Mound, with a population of just over 600, was the perfect place to raise their son and two daughters, they said. People care about each other and feel safe.
They never expected a threat from all over the world to seep through social media.
Daniel was calm and content. He worked hard and used his own savings to buy his first mobile tablet so he could play games with his friends.
Derek Lints spoke to his son about online safety.
As Daniel grew older, he was given more freedom online. He told his family about a presentation at school about Amanda Todd, who took her own life at the age of 15 in 2012 after several years of the online section.
A Dutch citizen is on trial in British Columbia and has pleaded not guilty to five counts, including felony prosecution and communicating with a young man in order to commit a sex offence.
- Dutch police seize hidden money, passport and hard drive from Amanda Todd defendants
- Parents and Dutch police investigator testify in trial of man accused of cyberbullying by Amanda Todd
Every third Internet user in the world is a child, every fifth is in Canada. Many countries are putting pressure on social media companies to keep platforms safe for this demographic.
The European Union recently agreed on a landmark regulation for tech giants. Australia and New Zealand are moving in the same direction.
Canada has created an Internet Safety Advisory Council to form a regulatory framework for dealing with harmful content on the Internet.
Sauer says social media platforms are responsible for keeping kids safe. He says they could do much more.
- Dutch police witness testifies about Amanda Todd’s investigation
- RCMP warns of new sex extortion tactics targeting youth
“There seems to be a lack of will, a lack of pressure and obviously a lack of regulation in this space.”
More than 10 years after Todd’s death, the Linzes are frustrated that children are still in danger. They want every parent and teen to be aware of sextorsion scams. They want pressure on social media to keep kids safe.
“This is our way of fighting back against these predators who stole Danny from us. This is something we can do right now,” Jill Lints said. “We can tell everyone.”
If you or someone you know is having trouble, here’s where to get help:
Canadian Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (tel.) | 45645 (text).
Child Helpline: 1-800-668-6868 (phone), chat consultations Web site.
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis center.
This guide is from Center for Addictions and Mental Health describes how to talk about suicide with someone you’re worried about.