What are “cappers” and why do parents need to know?
With kids spending more time online during COVID-19, individuals looking to exploit children online are sharing “best practices” for targeting and abusing children during this pandemic.
“They recommend parents monitor their kids online activities even more strictly now (we know most will not). They recommend that parents ensure that their kids do not take phones, laptops, or tablets into their bedrooms or bathrooms (it is our goals to get them there).”
What should parents know?
- A capper is an individual who tricks kids into committing a sexual act over live stream while screen capturing or recording a video. Some cappers will use the child’s images/videos to extort them for more sexual images or money.
- There are also those cappers who simply record the sexual act over live stream without ever disclosing to the youth they have done so. These cappers simply move on to their next target, using the material to elevate their status by exchanging it with other offenders online. The youth within the image/video may never know that sexual content of them is available online and/or being traded within the offender community.
- Cappers are sharing tips and tricks to successfully engage in this activity, including reading a “how to cap manual,” how to use bait videos that trick children into believing they are chatting with a peer, and which platforms they have been the most successful on when trying to victimize children/youth.
How does this happen?
- Often conversations start on popular platforms such as Instagram®, Snapchat®, Omegle™, Chatroulette™, or Skype® and then the capper will ask youth to move to another video chat platform.
- From there cappers may use a pre-recorded video — for example a teenage girl taking off her clothes — and asks the youth to do the same.
- Once the youth removes their clothes, or engages in a sexual act, the threats often begin almost immediately, notifying the youth the live stream has been recorded.
- Reports to Cybertip.ca indicate cappers will often screenshot the youth’s friends list and send a screenshot of the video they took stating it will be released to friends and family if they don’t comply.
What can parents do?
Now more than ever parents must not rely on content filters and parental controls; supervision, along with some additional measures are key:
- Talk to your child about the potential harm that can occur if you get naked on webcam. Once you do this, you have no idea what the person you are communicating with may be doing to record and then possibly share the image/video with others.
- Talk to your child about red flag behaviours online such as attention bombing (persistence with staying in close contact) and chat that quickly escalates to being sexual in nature. Encourage your child to come to you if they notice these things.
- Have regular conversations about what apps, websites, and platforms your children are using, especially those that have live stream capabilities. For further information about conversation tips, read our blog Staying Safe Together.
- Work together to establish guidelines around texting, social media, live streaming, and gaming, such as who your child can do these things with and on what apps. It’s important to remember the platforms children intersect with need to be built with them in mind. This means proper age verification, moderation, and safety built into the design, such as platforms that do not allow children and adults to intermix without rules.
- Remind your child that their safety is what is most important to you, and if they come across something or someone online that makes them feel uncomfortable they can come to you without fear of getting in trouble.
- If you see, read, or hear anything sexual from an adult towards your child online, report it to Cybertip.ca.