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‘Sextortion’ labeled as most important and fastest-growing cyberthreat to children

Adolescents who identified as non-heterosexual were more than twice as likely to be the victim of sextortion. This finding is consistent with other forms of online abuse, including cyberbullying and electronic dating violence, which research has shown is more common among those who do not identify as heterosexual.

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“Sextortion” has been labeled as the most important and fastest-growing cyberthreat to children, with more minor victims per offender than all other child sexual exploitation offenses, according to  the United States Department of Justice. 

Sextortion is the “threatened dissemination of explicit, intimate or embarrassing images of a sexual nature without consent. Usually, it is for the purpose of getting more images, sexual acts, money or something else.”

Despite increased public interest in sextortion, there have been no studies to empirically examine this behavior among adolescents. This is why researchers from Florida Atlantic University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire conducted a study that explored sextortion prevalence behaviors among 5,568 middle and high school students in the US between the ages of 12 to 17 years.

The study, published in the journal Sexual Abuse, found that 5% of these youth had been the target of sextortion, and 3% admitted that they had done it to others. Males were significantly more likely than females to have participated in sextortion both as a victim and as an offender.

How the Vic Fabe issue highlights that we can be our worst enemies…

The study also found that adolescents who identified as non-heterosexual were more than twice as likely to be the victim of sextortion. This is consistent with other forms of online abuse, including cyberbullying and electronic dating violence, which research has shown is more common among those who do not identify as heterosexual.

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The study did not find any difference by race and age, although 15 year olds were generally more likely to be involved compared with other groups.

The study also found that most sextortion experiences occurred within existing relationships (romantic or otherwise). It was rare that the person targeted by someone was not well known to the target.

Sextortion-related activities varied, and included: being stalked or harassed (9.7% of males and 23.5% of females), being contacted repeatedly online or by phone (42.9% of males and 40.9% of females), and having a fake online profile created about them (11.2% of males and 8.7% of females).

Most notably, 24.8% of males and 26.1% of females who were sextorted said the offender posted the sexual image of them online, while 25.5% of male victims and 29.6% of female victims said the offender sent the sexual image of them to someone else without their permission.

“Threats that were made were ultimately carried out in some way, and some of these instances may indeed be more accurately characterized as ‘revenge porn,’ another behavior involving the unauthorized distribution of explicit images,” said Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., co-author, a professor in FAU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within the College for Design and Social Inquiry, and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “Revenge porn is less colloquially known as ‘non-consensual pornography.’ However, the primary difference between revenge porn tends to be public while sextortion is usually private, unless threats are ultimately carried out.”

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Not surprisingly, only a few sextortion victims reported the experience to parents or other adult authorities. And among those who reported, more females informed their parents than did males. Also, very few sextortion victims reported it to the site or app where the situation occurred.

The researchers – Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D., who co-authored – advise youth to be cautious when it comes to how much trust they can extend to others. But they also suggested for parents and other adults who work with teens to cultivate them in a healthy dose of skepticism about the sharing of personal (particularly sexual) content to anyone in their circle because – as the research showed – sextortion rarely involves strangers.

“Youth may fall prey to victimization more readily than adults because of the naiveté that stems from a simple lack of experience in the ways of life and love,” Hinduja ended.

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Condom use pushed to deal with HIV

For “Love Walk”, PAFPI’s workers/volunteers distributed condoms and lubricants in different areas in the cities of Manila and Pasay, with the approach hoping to “educate (particularly men) and to try to change their attitudes, their outlook, and their (sex) behaviors.”

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ALL PHOTOS BY LUWELA RODRIGO

In December 2018, the HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) reported 877 new HIV cases in the Philippines, with the country now registering 32 new HIV cases every day. And of that figure, 98% (or 861 of the cases) were from sexual contact, which remains the main mode of HIV transmission in the country.

This is the backdrop of the push for condom use of the Positive Action Foundation Philippines Inc. (PAFPI), a non-government organization serving the PLHIV community, via its “Love Walk” advocacy.

Now in its seventh year, “Love Walk” is basically “an HIV awareness campaign” that brings together people to “directly respond to the HIV epidemic affecting the Philippines.”

According to Moses Ayuha, from PAFPI, there are other lessons that may continue to be taught to deal with HIV, including teaching people to abstain from sex to avoid possible HIV infection. However, he said that there is also a need for a more realistic look approach at the situation because “not everybody abstains anyway.”

For Ayuha, and in a gist, there are people who – even if they are already aware of (other) ways to supposedly avoid getting infected with HIV – still have unprotected sex. “These are the people we need to reach.”

For “Love Walk”, PAFPI’s workers/volunteers distributed condoms and lubricants in different areas in the cities of Manila and Pasay, with the approach hoping to “educate (particularly men) and to try to change their attitudes, their outlook, and their (sex) behaviors.”

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Ayuha admitted that efforts like the “Love Walk” continue to be challenging, particularly since bringing the sex educating straight to the streets means teaching people about HIV off the bat. “The challenge ay kung paano ipaliliwanag sa mga tao ang HIV sa kalsada at paano rin maiintindhan ng tao ang kahalagahan ng pagpapa-test (The challenge is how to explain HIV to people on the sreets, and how to tell people about the importance of getting tested for HIV),” he said.

It is also not uncomoon to encounter unwanted responses from people who may not support efforts like “Love Walk.”

Sinasabi namin na hindi naman pag namigay ng condom, (we already) promote sex,” Ayuha said. “It’s just one of the preventive measures. And because – nowadays, people are having sex – we just encourage people to be responsible.” 

In the end, for Ayuha, efforts like the “Love Walk” will continue to be relevant until “we’ve finally properly dealt with HIV.” – ARTICLE FILED WITH LUWELA RODRIGO

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Relationship between police officers and LGBT people remains strained

Homophobic and heterosexist attitudes of police against the LGBT community has resulted in under-policing when they are victimized, but over-policing in places of leisure – damaging trust between the two parties.

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Homophobic and heterosexist attitudes of police against the LGBT community has resulted in under-policing when they are victimized, but over-policing in places of leisure – damaging trust between the two parties. This is according to a study that also suggests that the relationship between police officers and LGBT people remains strained across several dimensions.

A new study by Florida Atlantic University and collaborators from Arizona State University and the University of Rhode Island examines the relationship between procedural justice (fairness and perceived respect of the police-citizen encounter) and perceptions of police legitimacy (willingness to recognize police authority) among a historically marginalized population.

“LGBT people often found themselves in trouble with the law for a variety of reasons like criminal laws against sodomy or dressing in ‘drag.’ Police regularly raided LGBT bars and charged patrons with lewdness,” said Lisa M. Dario, Ph.D., lead author and an assistant professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry in the US. “While there is a lot of research on the LGBT community’s relationship with police, there is scant research on how they perceive police legitimacy and what predicts their willingness to obey, cooperate, and recognize police authority.”

For the study, the researchers set out to test two hypotheses: greater perceptions of procedural justice would predict greater levels of police legitimacy; and lesbian women would report lower levels of legitimacy compared to other groups.

Results, published in the Journal of Homosexuality, confirm their first hypothesis that procedural justice and legitimacy are positively related. For their second hypothesis, however, they found mixed support. As they predicted, lesbian, bisexual and transgender females reported significantly lower levels of police legitimacy than heterosexual cisgender women and gay males. They speculate that this may be a result of lesbian, bisexual and trans women experiencing both sexism and homophobia, which, in turn compounds the amount of minority stress that they experience. Conversely, they did not find a significant difference in perceptions of police legitimacy between heterosexual men and lesbian women.

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Other findings show that race, age, gender, and relationship status were not significant predictors of police legitimacy. Yet, in the first study model, Hispanic ethnicity was. Surprisingly, Hispanic respondents reported greater perceptions of police legitimacy compared to non-Hispanic respondents. Historically, blacks and Hispanics in general have more negative views of police than wites. Self-identifying as LGBT did not significantly lower perception of police legitimacy compared to non-LGBT respondents.

“Studying the views of this often-invisible segment of society is necessary to highlight the areas where law enforcement needs to improve in order to positively affect their legitimacy and, ultimately, citizen compliance,” said Dario. “If officers believe they will be caught and punished for behaviors that violate formal policies, then they will be less likely to engage in such behaviors. Moreover, crime in all its diversity would be more effectively combatted if more LGBT people could have greater trust and confidence in the police.”

Study co-authors are Henry F. Fradella, Ph.D., a professor and associate director in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University; Megan Verhagen, a graduate research assistant at Arizona State University; and Megan M. Parry, Ph.D., an assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Rhode Island.

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Anti-bullying laws associated with fewer suicide attempts

Sexual minority youth have a higher prevalence of bullying and attempted suicide than non-sexual minority youth.

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New research from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that anti-bullying laws that explicitly protect youth based on sexual orientation are associated with fewer suicide attempts among all youth, regardless of sexual orientation.

In addition, enumeration of sexual orientation was associated with fewer experiences of stressors, such as feeling unsafe at school and being physically forced to have sexual intercourse.

The report, “Sexual Orientation Enumeration in State Antibullying Statutes in the United States: Association with Bullying and Suicide Ideation and Attempts Among Youth” appears in LGBT Health and is co-authored by Ilan H. Meyer, Ph.D., Distinguished Senior Public Policy Scholar at the Williams Institute, Feijun Luo, Ph.D., Economist at CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Bianca D.M. Wilson, Ph.D., Rabbi Barbara Zacky Senior Public Policy Scholar at the Williams Institute, and Deborah M. Stone, ScD, MSW, MPH, Behavioral Scientist at CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

It is worth noting that the study, while shedding light on the effect of anti-discrimination policies on the overall health of LGBTQIA people, was done in the US. No similar study has been done in the Philippines, where there is still no national law protecting the rights of LGBTQIA people; and with only a handful of local government units (LGUs) with anti-discrimination ordinances.

In this study, while fewer youth attempted suicide in American states with sexual orientation-inclusive anti-bullying laws, more sexual minority youth experience bullying and other stressors, and they are more likely than non-sexual minority youth to experience suicide ideation and attempts—whether or not their state has explicit sexual orientation protections.

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“Enumeration of sexual orientation in state anti-bullying laws is a first step,” said lead author Ilan H. Meyer, a senior public policy scholar at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. “These laws are associated with fewer suicide attempts but do not eliminate disparities between sexual minority and non- sexual minority youth. Additional interventions, such as training teachers, instituting school-based support groups, and promoting social connectedness between youth and their communities may help reduce disparities in exposure to bullying and its ill effects for sexual minority youth.”

In the US, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws aimed at reducing bullying. Currently, 20 states and the District of Columbia have enumerated anti-bullying laws that explicitly prohibit harassment and victimization of students based on sexual orientation.

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Gay dads and their kids still structurally stigmatized

Most stigma occurred in religious environments (reported by 34.8% of fathers), while about one-quarter of respondents reported experiencing stigma in the past year from family members, neighbors, gay friends and/or service providers such as waiters and salespeople.

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A study published in the February 2019 Pediatrics journal suggests the majority of gay fathers and their children continue to experience stigma with potentially harmful physical and psychological effects. This is despite legal, media and social advances.

In the study – called “Barriers and Stigma Experienced by Gay Fathers and Their Children” – participants specifically cited structural stigma, such as state laws and beliefs of religious communities, as affecting their experiences in multiple social contexts.

The study’s researchers, including Sean Hurley, an associate professor in the University of Vermont’s College of Education and Social Services, analyzed anonymous, online survey responses from 732 gay fathers of 1,316 children, from 47 states in the US. Among the questions asked of participants was whether the fathers and/or their children had been “made to feel uncomfortable, excluded, shamed, hurt, or unwelcome” in various social contexts. Almost two-thirds of fathers responding (63.5%) reported they had experienced stigma over the past year based on being a gay father.

Most stigma occurred in religious environments (reported by 34.8% of fathers), while about one-quarter of respondents reported experiencing stigma in the past year from family members, neighbors, gay friends and/or service providers such as waiters and salespeople. Nearly 19% of fathers reported that their children had avoided activities with friends for fear of encountering stigma.

“The results of the study are important because they highlight that while much progress has been made in terms of the experiences of gay men parenting, we find that they and their children are still experiencing potentially harmful stigma in a variety of social contexts,” says Hurley, who served as the study’s methodologist.

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For these families, the presence of laws and policies supportive of LGBT populations in states where they live reduced the experience of stigma. Prior research has shown that the amount of community support provided to members of sexual minorities is related to the well-being of lesbian and gay adolescents, adults, and children with lesbian or gay parents, and impacts rates of suicidality and psychiatric disorders.

This study’s authors encouraged pediatricians caring for children and their gay fathers to have discussions with these families about potentially stigmatizing experiences to help them learn strategies to counteract their harmful effects. Researchers agree that pediatricians, as leaders in their communities, also have an opportunity to help oppose discrimination in religious and other community institutions.

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Teaching Deaf Mindanawons about community-based HIV screening

Select members of the Deaf community in Mindanao were trained not only on the basics of HIV, but also on community-based HIV screening.

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“We’ve (actually) been given info on the basics of HIV,” admitted Prime Truya, a local Deaf LGBTQIA community leader from Davao City, “but past efforts have been limited to ‘basic knowledge’ sharing.”

With this, select members of the Deaf community in Mindanao were trained not only on the basics of HIV, but also on community-based HIV screening.

This endeavor – part of a project by Bahaghari Center for Research, Education an Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center), backed by collaboration between Youth LEAD and Y-PEER (Asia Pacific Center), which eyes to address Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) needs of Young Key Populations (YKPs) In Asia and the Pacific – is the first to actually teach the Deaf about actual screening/testing.

The goal, said Disney Aguila of Bahaghari Center and Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, Inc., is not just to “inform them that this issue is just as important to them. It is also to equip them with the actual know-how on what to do to become solutions in dealing with this issue.”

This project is also a follow-through of the public service announcements (PSAs) developed in Filipino Sign Language (FSL) to specifically tap the Deaf community.

PSA on HIV basics released in Filipino Sign Language

PSA on getting tested for HIV released in Filipino Sign Language

PSA deals in Filipino Sign Language what happens after rapid HIV test

Aguila lamented that “the Deaf community is often left behind in HIV-related efforts. Not surprisingly, we have a lot of catching up to do.”

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In Davao City, for instance, at least prior to the Bahaghari Center project, none of the Deaf community members were trained to screen/test others for HIV. This “approach of not empowering us makes us dependent on Hearing people,” Aguila said, adding that this dependence is not always good because “it disempowers us in dealing with this issue.”

Aguila admitted that the Deaf community will continue to have “an uphill battle in fighting HIV exactly because of this playing catch-up,” she said. “But every effort than can be done now should already be done now.”

The community-based HIV screening trainings are provided by The Red Ribbon Project, Inc.

Other supporters of the project include: Outrage Magazine, Fringe Publishing, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, TransDeaf Philippines, Deaf Dykes United and Pinoy Deaf Queer.

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Cebu’s Deaf community taught community-based HIV screening

Select members of the Deaf community from the Province of Cebu were trained on the basics of HIV, and on community-based HIV screening in an effort to “inform them that this issue is just as important to them, and that – given the chance – they can help become the solutions to deal with this.”

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Helping Deaf Filipinos to help themselves.

Select members of the Deaf community from the Province of Cebu were trained on the basics of HIV, and on community-based HIV screening in an effort to “inform them that this issue is just as important to them, and that – given the chance – they can help become the solutions to deal with this,” said Disney Aguila of Bahaghari Center for Research, Education an Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center) and Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, Inc.

The training is part of a project by Bahaghari Center, backed by collaboration between Youth LEAD and Y-PEER (Asia Pacific Center), which eyes to address Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)needs of Young Key Populations (YKPs) In Asia and the Pacific.

This project is also a follow-through of the public service announcements (PSAs) developed in Filipino Sign Language (FSL) to specifically tap the Deaf community.

PSA on HIV basics released in Filipino Sign Language

PSA on getting tested for HIV released in Filipino Sign Language

PSA deals in Filipino Sign Language what happens after rapid HIV test

Aguila lamented that “perhaps because the Deaf community is often left behind in HIV-related efforts, we have a lot of catching up to do,” she said.

In Cebu City, for instance, even if participants recognized the importance/urgency of tackling HIV, there are sectors that are still “unable to go beyond their fear of talking about sex and sexuality.”

Noticeably, the Hearing community “may already talk about SOGIE concepts and so on, but – because we have not always been included in discussions, we’re still learning the basics,” Aguila said.

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This is why, for Aguila, every effort counts to “ensure that we are included in the discussions; and perhaps just as importantly, also empowered so that we need not be dependent on the Hearing community just to be able to access lifesaving services.”

Aguila said that “this development may not come immediately, but every step leading there helps.”

The community-based HIV screening trainings are provided by The Red Ribbon Project, Inc.

Other supporters of the project include: Outrage Magazine, Fringe Publishing, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, TransDeaf Philippines, Deaf Dykes United and Pinoy Deaf Queer.

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