Module 1: Terminology


Catfishing: You may have seen this word on social media and TV. In fact, there is a popular MTV show called Catfish. Simply put, catfishing means pretending to be someone else while talking with someone online. People catfish others for a variety of reasons. In the context of this training, it is used to refer to someone attempting to gain the trust of youth when establishing an online relationship. They do this by pretending to be someone they are not – for example, an adult pretending to be a teenager to gain a young person’s trust.

Consent: Consent is having all the information to decide whether or not you would like something to happen (in this case, sexual activity). Consent requires 1) you to have all the information anyone in your position would want to make the same decision. 2) that you provide consent freely and willingly. However, that definition becomes more complicated when talking about sexual activities and the exploitation of youth. Here is a quick break down:

Under the age of 18, a person cannot consent to sexual activity if:

a) Their sexual partner is in a position of power, trust, or authority that directly affects the youth, such as their teacher, coach, or manager.
b) The young person is dependent on their sexual partner, for example, a care worker or babysitter.
c) The relationship between the young person and their sexual partner is exploitative (as outlined above)

*For more information about consent and the law, head to Module 9 to see specific details. *

Crowdsourcing: Defined as a group of online exploiters who work together to isolate a youth. Typically, each person in the group has a specific task. One person will find a youth to groom, one will pose as a minor, and one will create the video or screenshot photos without the youth knowing. Then the child’s sexual abuse material(s) are distributed on the internet.

Gender Identity:
Gender identity is a personal experience of gender. Sometimes this aligns with the sex assigned at birth (for example, being assigned male at birth and feeling congruency in that identity). Other times, the sex assigned at birth does not align with a sense of self (for example, being assigned male at birth, but being girl).

Gender is a social construct, meaning that it’s something that humans have created.

Online Sexual Exploitation: While there are many types of exploitation, the focus here is the online sexual exploitation of youth (anyone under 18 years old). Sexual exploitation means exchanging/providing sexual act(s) for another person’s financial/material benefit or money, shelter, drugs, food, transportation, etc. Sexual exploitation includes involving children and youth in creating child sexual abuse material, sexually explicit websites, stripping, sexual massage, phone sex, street-based sex, call-in/-out services.

Self-exploitation is when a youth intentionally sends intimate images/videos to someone else (including another youth).

Peer-to-peer exploitation is if the youth receiving intimate images/videos shares those materials with other youth without the consent of the image/video creator.

Revenge porn/revenge exploitation is when the youth receiving the intimate images/videos shares the materials without consent from the creator to inflict hurt or harm to the youth creator.

Online Grooming/Online Luring:
Online luring/grooming is the process by which an offender gains the trust of youth online to manipulate the youth into sharing child sexual exploitation materials, or gain in-person access to the child for sexual exploitation. For example, naked pictures, videos, live webcam shows or perhaps introducing the idea of having sexual conversations. Also known as “online sexual solicitation.” 

*This is a broad definition, and we will get into more detail about what grooming can look like and the steps involved in Module 2*

Safe Adult:
A safe adult is someone respectful of your boundaries, doesn’t ask you to keep their secrets, and has your safety and best interest in mind.

A safe adult can be a parent/guardian, teacher, coach, community member, relative, or anyone older than 18 that you trust.

Safe Space: 
A safe space is an area where someone feels safe and confident that they will not be exposed to physical, mental, or emotional harm. 

This can be a space where marginalized groups can connect without the threat of feeling discriminated against, harmed, or harassed. Creating a safer space is an intentional practice.

Sexting means sending sexually explicit materials (photos, videos, messages) to someone via text or message apps. Sexting can be a regular part of sexual development and romantic relationships for age appropriate youth (13 years and up). A personal photo or video can be used in harmful ways. For example, someone you thought you could trust could show/send your images to others

*Click here to see what you can do*

Sextortion: Sextortion is a form of sexual blackmail. Sextortion means using coercion or threats to exploit a youth sexually. This can be someone your age or an adult exploiter making these demands.

Victim Blaming: Placing the blame and responsibility for sexual exploitation on the survivor. For example, saying someone deserves what happens to them because they consented to an experience and withdrew their consent. Victim blaming is a judgmental, harmful, and unsafe stance to take with anyone who has experienced trauma, including sexual exploitation and abuse.