If it can happen to Danny and happen to our family, it can happen to you!!!!!
We limited screen time and checked on what Danny was doing online. We were on the same apps that he was. We prayed with him. We tried to keep him active in the community and physically active with sports. This can happen in a very short time period.
From the research that we have done on this over the last few months, it is almost certainly the same story – these are good kids, they are smart and most often parents have informed them of the dangers of online conversing and sending photos etc. The part that is also the same in all these stories is that parents say they wish they had told their kids, that if they make a mistake, to come to them – with anything. It is often assumed that they will, but in this situation, they are pushed to the edge by these blackmailers and feel they have no way out. As with us, we trusted Danny 100% in all aspects of his life – we had no reason not to. It is just devastating to us that he didn’t come to us. It’s something that we struggle with every day and always will forever. Parents, urge your kids and remind them to come to you for any reason – or at the very least, if they don’t feel they can, then go to a safe adult.
Kids make mistakes. People, make mistakes. Even when they know better. If you find yourself in this situation, please go to a safe adult for help. Don’t try to deal with it yourself. The blackmailers/exploiters are professionals. They know what to say to push you to the edge. They kill kids for a living. It’s what they do – for a few hundred dollars at a time. They don’t care if you live or die, but your parents, friends and community members do.
The blackmailers will push you, even encourage you to take your life. It is not worth the pain caused to everybody left behind. It doesn’t do anything to stop them from repeating the process on another child. Please don’t let embarrassment or shame overwhelm you. Remember that these are body parts that we all have and have all seen. This does not mean that your life is over. You can get past this. If pictures get released of your friend or classmate, do not shame them, support them. If we can remove the shame, it will save lives and extortionists will be out of business!
We are all interested and curious especially as teenagers. You are normal. The other person is the predatory criminal not you! Being duped this way (or in any way) is not the end of the world or uncommon.
Susan Peterson, Derek & Jill Lints
Suicide is complicated.
It can be caused by a state of mind: feeling undervalued, unloved, having no purpose, depression, loneliness; poor health medications; lack of proper sleep; brain damage through an accident or the use of drugs or alcohol - or a combination of any of these. None applied to 17-year-old Danny Lints.
Danny loved his family. He was a typical big brother to his younger sisters Anna and Addy: someone who pestered them, protected them and who they could spend time with easily. There was comfortable communication between Danny and his parents Derek and Jill; they believed that no matter what, Danny would always come to them for advice or help if needed. Up until he died, he had not been behaving oddly. There were no indications he was suicidal.
That tragic night of February 19th, Derek was about to start his volunteer shift at Tivoli Theater while Jill was getting ready to go to the movie with Danny. Suddenly, their son shot out the door yelling, “I’m going to Grandma’s to water her plants.” That seemed unusual to Jill, not that it wasn’t something he wouldn’t happily do while his grandma was away, just that it was poor timing - right before they were to go to the movie. And, it was a stormy night to drive out to the acreage his grandma lived on. “All right, I’ll meet you at the movie,” she responded, puzzled.
Danny didn’t show up by the start of the movie. Worried he’d gone off the road, Jill and Derek each began texting him at intervals, with no response. After a time, Derek decided to go look for him and it was en route to Grandma’s that he came upon the empty running car, stuck in heavy snow with the doors locked and Danny’s cell phone inside. Derek continued to Grandma’s and discovered what no parent should ever have to. From that moment on, every cell in the Lints family’s bodies would feel as if they would vaporize in grief, anguish and eventually, anger. Danny died by his own hand, but he was not suicidal. There was a sinister cause to his death: he was a victim of sexploitation.
Let he who is free of sin cast the first stone.
There is no one who can say they haven’t done something they regret. There is no one who can say they haven’t done something to humiliate or embarrass themselves. Knowing his story doesn’t give anyone license to judge Danny or his family. The Lints would have preferred to keep the truth to themselves to preserve the memory people hold of their son, but because this happened to him and because they are aware it has happened to at least two other teens in this area (with a better ending), they have courageously chosen to tell Danny’s story hoping to save other lives and to demonstrate how this can happen here.
After thorough investigation, the local RCMP had enough evidence to decide the case needed to be passed on to the Child Exploitation Division. Through examination of his computer and cell phone, it was later confirmed that Danny had been blackmailed by sextortionists.
Since the introduction of photography, pornography has existed in society. It is sickening to view or read the news stories on this, particularly when it comes to preschoolers and babies. And only a vile, disgusting, not-worth-the-breath-he-breathes man could sexually abuse his daughter for years, then sell her to the sex trade industry for $500.
How naive we are. How unrealistic our feeling of safety. Someone like this could be living in or near our own communities. Pornography related arrests have been made in Niverville, and even in the tiny villages of Lavenham (north of Treherne) and Arden (east of Neepawa). “We chose to raise our children in a small town to protect them,” Jill says. “The evil still got in.” However, the people who did this to Danny most likely live across international borders with few or no laws regarding pornography and extortion. Even if found, little to nothing can be done to bring them to justice. Painful. Frustrating.
What makes this worse for the Lints is that they had coached Danny well in the dangers of internet interaction. “From the day he saved up his money to buy an iPod to play games and talk with his friends online, he was taught and told to be careful about talking with people online,” says Derek. “Don’t talk with people you don’t know, don’t add people as ‘friends’ on any platform unless you know them. Be careful about things you post that could show your name or address or show any personal information. Be careful about pictures you post – and above all, never, ever, ever post/ send any inappropriate pictures to anybody. Even if someday, you have a girlfriend, still don’t do it. Those pics are there forever.
“But this still happened to him,” Derek continues. “At 6:30 p.m. on February 19, he received his first extortion chat message. Danny cleaned out his bank account and made two Paypal payments to try to make this problem ‘go away’, but typically, once extortionists get some money, they ramp up the harassment and the blackmail intensifies. By 9:30 p.m. that same night, he had taken his life.
“We’ll never know why exactly Danny fell victim to this when he was aware of the dangers (like 9000 other kids per day who are victims of sexploitation in America). To the best of our understanding, it was probably a combination of reasons: pandemic boredom, teenage sexual curiosity, teenage naivety – nothing is gonna happen to me. After much research on the subject we have also discovered that the teenage brain is not fully equipped to deal with this kind of situation and the ‘flight or fight’ instinct is invoked - which could explain Danny’s sudden departure from home on that evening. Impulse control in developing teen brains also is a contributor – explaining the ‘tunnel vision’ he had in deciding his only way out.”
The other area children came to their parents, and the Lints don’t understand why Danny didn’t, given their coaching. Derek theorizes it’s because Danny “... was a self-conscious guy, and I think it was a mixture of extreme embarrassment, extreme disappointment in himself (he would have been soooo angry at himself), the extreme pressure from the blackmailers – that caused him to have tunnel vision as to the only way out. He would have been so distraught that he wouldn’t have been able to think of any other way. He didn’t think about the effects on his family and community.”
Jill agrees and really wants area youth to understand the message they are painfully conveying: “Never be afraid to come to your parents. We love you, and will help you, no matter what.” What was said to Danny online in those moments just before he dashed out the door was enough for him to turn to what he believed was his last resort. He’d been backed into a corner by cruel, heartless, disgusting, sinister individuals and believed there was only one way of escape.
Canada’s tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, is seeing an alarming trend in reports from teens who have had their Snapchat accounts hacked and had their intimate images or videos shared on the social media platform.
Since August 2021, both Cybertip. ca and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P), which operates Cybertip.ca, have received a combined 27 reports related to this extortion trend. In some cases, the perpetrator threatened to hack their Snapchat account and share intimate images of the teen. In other cases, the teen’s Snapchat account was hacked, and intimate images were distributed as a result.
Some tactics the offenders used included:
• Contacting the teen through direct message on Snapchat, mentioning they have seen naked pictures of the teen on a site, or they have naked pictures of the teen taken from the teen’s My Eyes Only folder (private snaps saved in the app that have a passcode) in Snapchat.
• Providing a link to an external site or a page to “recover” their email and password, then using the information entered by the teen to take over their account.
• Adding the teen’s friends on Snapchat or sending a picture of the teen’s followers as a manipulation tactic.
• Stalking the teen online and persistently contacting them until they comply with the demands.
I n some instances the teen had previous interactions with the offender on Snapchat or other platforms prior to being threatened. In a number of the cases reported to Cybertip.ca, the teen’s intimate images were in fact shared either on the offender’s Snapchat story, the teen’s hacked Snapchat story, or were sent directly to the teen’s contacts the offender added or threatened to share with.
In almost every report the offender demanded money in order to keep the offender from hacking the teen’s account or sharing the imagery they had already obtained. However, in a few reports the perpetrator asked for additional content (e.g., more intimate images/ videos) in order for the imagery not to be shared. Snapchat is among a variety of platforms used to target teens.
In a September 2021, Cybertip.ca Alert, the tipline noted a 62% increase reports of teens being sextorted across a number of every day apps and platforms. It’s common to see initial contact on Omegle™ or Instagram®, and then the communication moving to Google+ Hangouts® or Skype®, where teens are coerced to undress on camera.
What to do if you’re being sextorted
If someone is threatening to share your nude image or video, there is help:
• Immediately stop all communication. Deactivate ( but don’t delete) any of the accounts you are using to communicate with the individual.
• Do not comply with the threat. In other words, never pay money and never send additional nudes. Your situation will not get better by doing either of these things. If you have paid money, check to see if it has been collected and, if not, quickly cancel the payment.
• Reach out for help and report it. Tell an adult who will help you, and report what has happened to Cybertip.ca or contact police in your jurisdiction. Remember that you are not alone. Reach out to a safe adult so they can help you get through this situation. Dealing with sextortion is too big to manage on your own.
• Keep the correspondence. Keep information such as the person’s username(s), social media account information, a copy of the communications, along with any images and/or videos that
What should caregivers do if their teen is being sextorted?
Report it. to police or to Cybertip.ca through the online report form or via the toll‑free number at 1-866-658-9022. Do not comply with the threat. In other words, never pay money and ensure your teen never sends additional images/ video. The situation will NOT get better by doing either of these things. Stop all communication with the person making the threat. However, make sure to keep any correspondence between your teen and the person threatening them.
What should caregivers do if their teen’s image or video has been shared?
• Provide practical steps to help regain control over the situation.
• Help to get child sexual abuse material or intimate images of a teen removed from the platform. Cybertip. ca analysts can also help guide you on actions to take to have it removed yourself, if you prefer.
• Connect you and your teen to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s support service team who work extensively with teens, schools, and families during instances of sextortion. They can help with everything from emotional support to connecting you with therapy or victim services, if needed.
How can i help my teen protect themselves on social media platforms, like snapchat? Parents and caregivers, a quick reminder that Snapchat’s Terms of Service (outside the U.S.) states users must be 13+ to have an account with the app.
• Talk with your teen about only adding people/followers they know in real life. On Snapchat, encourage your teen to block random/ unknown users who add them.
• Tell your teen not to click on or access links/websites sent to them through direct messages, especially if they don’t know the individual sending the link.
• Work with teens on privacy settings. For Snapchat in particular, review the Who Can section under Settings to modify and limit who can contact your teen, view their stories, see them in Quick Add, and see their location.
• Encourage your teen to create a strong password for their social accounts.
• Remind your teen to limit the amount of information about themselves in their profile details. Snapchat profiles can include users’ full names, their birthday, and star sign. Encourage teens to use a pseudonym and disable Birthday Party, which will remove their birthday details. Learn more about how to ensure your teen’s social media bio isn’t giving away too much personal information.
• Let your teen know that material in their My Eyes Only section of their Snapchat account is not as secure as they may think and to carefully consider what is stored/shared there.
• Encourage your teen not to share their Snapcode (a unique QR code that allows people to quick add users to their Snapchat) or other social media usernames online.
• Have regular conversations about online safety – talk about the apps they use, games they play, and who they’re connecting with. For tips on how to get the conversation started with kids and teens of all ages, visit protectkidsonline.ca.
• Remind teens they can always come to you for help if something has happened without fear of getting in trouble or losing their device.
CYBERTIP.CA Toll‑free: 1-866-658-9022
KID'S HELP LINE: 800 668-6868 Text 686868
MILLIONKIDS.ORG Keeping kids safe from predators