UK anti-child abuse body alarmed by Web blackmail

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s online child protection agency has sounded the alarm over pedophiles’ use of blackmail to force their victims into handing over sexually explicit images or perform sex acts live via webcam.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center said in a statement Friday that 184 children in the United Kingdom had been subjected to some form of online sexual blackmail over the past two years. The agency said that six shame-stricken children subsequently seriously harmed themselves or tried to take their own lives as a result. One committed suicide.

Laura Huey, a cyberpolicing expert at the University of Western Ontario who wasn’t involved with the research, said online blackmail “is a continuation of what was already happening for a long time in the terrestrial world.”

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