“No Escape Room” Launches with New Data

Interactive Experience Exposes Dangers of Financial Sextortion

ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 16, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is unveiling “No Escape Room,” a thrilling new interactive experience that plunges parents and caregivers into the reality of financial sextortion, coinciding with the release of new data on child sexual exploitation.

“Despite the increasing occurrence of sextortion, few parents know what it’s like when a child is exploited online,”

Based on dozens of real-life CyberTipline reports, the interactive film follows the story of a 15-year-old boy’s exploitation online. Throughout the experience, the user will be prompted to engage in a conversation with someone who appears to be another teenager. Before they know it, what started out as a friendly, flirtatious chat has them trapped in a blackmail scenario. At key points, “No Escape Room” challenges parents to try and navigate the situation for themselves, as they find out it’s more difficult than it seems.

“Despite the increasing occurrence of sextortion, few parents actually know what it looks like when a child is exploited online,” said Gavin Portnoy, Vice President of Communications & Brand at NCMEC. “We created ‘No Escape Room’ to allow parents to see how quickly and easily their own child could fall victim to online exploitation, even if they are just down the hall in your own home.”

The National Center recently conducted a Harris poll to test what parents are most concerned about when it comes to protecting their children. Of the 5,000 people surveyed, 88% stated child abductions as their biggest concern. Online safety barely registered, shining a light on how most of the public is unaware of how frequent and close to home cases of child exploitation can be.

The alarming reality is that online enticement and exploitation is growing at an exponential rate. In 2023 alone, NCMEC’s CyberTipline received 36.2 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation. Between 2021 and 2023, online enticement reports increased more than 300%.

As users navigate “No Escape Room” they’ll quickly learn that sometimes, teens don’t always have options to get out of certain situations. At the end of the experience, users will be given the opportunity to connect with NCMEC for resources on sextortion.

“We hope that parents and caregivers will take the time to really pay attention to what a child going through online enticement is experiencing and feeling,” Portnoy said. “Then, they can use that knowledge to better inform conversations with the kids in their lives.”

“No Escape Room” was funded by the grant provided to NCMEC from the Department of Justice. To create the interactive experience, NCMEC partnered with Grow, a digital agency that works to create digital “activations” and “destinations” meant to be immersive and innovative.

The company was proud to partner with NCMEC to shed light on the pressing issue of sextortion.

“When we took on this brief, our eyes were opened to just how serious and widespread child sextortion is online — and how little parents know about it,” said Drew Ungvarsky, Grow’s Founder and CEO. “In creating ‘No Escape Room,’ we wanted to go beyond education and bring parents directly into the experience of an unsuspecting child. The interactive film gives parents an immersive viewpoint into the crime, showing them firsthand how a child would struggle to navigate such perilous circumstances. It’s been an honor to put our skills in digital experience innovation to work in helping NCMEC address the rising threat of sextortion.”

Although sometimes it may seem like there is no escape, NCMEC has resources to help you find a way out. If you find that a child in your life is experiencing sextortion or another form of online enticement, NCMEC can help. NCMEC also offers a service called Take It Down, which helps remove nude, partially nude or sexually explicit photos and videos of underage people by assigning a unique digital fingerprint, called a hash value, to the images or videos. Online platforms can use those hash values to detect these images or videos on their public or unencrypted services and remove this content.

You can read more about Take It Down here: https://takeitdown.ncmec.org/.

NCMEC’s new-interactive experience, “No Escape Room,” can be viewed here: https://noescaperoom.org/

For more resources on how to talk to the children in your life about sextortion, visit NCMEC’s website here: https://www.missingkids.org/sextortion

Cision View original content to download multimedia:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/no-escape-room-launches-with-new-data-302118186.html

SOURCE National Center for Missing & Exploited Children