‘Sextortion’ Documentary May Leave Viewers With Exaggerated Sense Of Risk To Children

A new documentary called Sextortion: The Hidden Pandemic has gained attention at screenings hosted by universities, police departments and even the Pentagon. But many of the claims made in the film are poorly supported and overhyped.

The film warns parents about the dangers of sexually coercive crimes online and suggests that strangers are targeting potentially millions of minors – pressuring them into sharing revealing content and, often, extorting them for money.

But NPR has found the documentary could leave viewers with an incomplete and exaggerated sense of the risk by relying upon statistics that lack context. Experts fear it could hinder harm reduction efforts by skewing public perception.

NPR’s Lisa Hagen, who covers how false and misleading information spreads, shares her reporting into the documentary and its filmmakers.

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