Naked Mole Rats Fighting 'Sextortion' in Canada

Nonprofit encourages teens to send naked mole rats instead of naked pics
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2017 5:21 PM CDT

(Newser) – Incidents of "sextortion"—adults posing as teens to get actual teens to send nude photos, then blackmailing them—are on the rise in Canada. But Canadian teens have a new defender: the humble naked mole rat. Quartz reports a new campaign from the Canadian Center for Child Protection encourages teens asked to send a naked photo to send a picture of a naked mole rat instead. The nonprofit even has naked mole rat memes available on the campaign website to get teens started. The PSA is aimed at teen boys in particular. The center says there's been an 89% increase in sextortion cases victimizing teen boys over the past two years. And it's not just in Canada; a Minnesota man was sent to prison last year after sextorting more than 150 boys, according to the New Yorker.

So why a naked mole rat? Besides the fact they're seriously interesting (the New Yorker has a list of naked mole rat facts—they're immune to most pain, can live 18 minutes without oxygen, etc.—that you really should read), the PSA explains: "Long, veiny, and fleshy, the naked mole rat—you can call it Willy—looks a lot like that picture you were just about to send." The center's executive director, Lianna McDonald, says it was a "brazen" choice to use humor to address a serious subject, but it's the best way to reach teen boys, who can become suicidal over sextortion. "They're so deeply humiliated about what's about to happen and what they've done," she tells CBC. And the idea of giving potential victims something proactive to do—confront a would-be victimizer with an ugly animal—is an appealing one. (Read more sextortion stories.)

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