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  1. Know2Protect
  2. About
  3. Key Definitions

Key Definitions

Key terms, such as "sextortion" and "grooming," floating on a spider web

Below is a list of terms relevant to child sexual exploitation and abuse. 

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Child sexual abuse material (CSAM)

Any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a person less than 18 years old.

Child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA)

A horrific crime that targets some of the most vulnerable people in our communities — children and teens. It includes a broad range of criminal acts that involve victimizing a minor for sexual gratification or some other personal or financial gain. Online CSEA takes many forms, including the creation and distribution of child sexual abuse material, grooming, sextortion and threats of self-harm. Because this crime takes place online, it occurs all over the world and is a global epidemic.


Darknet/dark web

An encrypted portion of the internet that requires special software to access and cannot be accessed by conventional search engines. Although it may be used for legitimate purposes, such as privacy or for the exchange of confidential business information or communication by political activists, it is also a hub for illegal activity and black-market sales.


Fake profiles

Social media profiles that are not associated with a real person or are created using a real person’s personal information without their consent.



The process of adding geographical metadata to various media such as photos, videos and text messages. This data is often added by an automated software program within each device.



A set of data that describes and gives information about other data, such as photos and videos. It includes the date, time, pinpoint geolocation (often with maps) and phone information attached to those photos and videos. People can access this information regardless of where the image or video is posted, including in text messages, apps or chat platforms.


Online grooming

A process by which an online predator establishes a connection with a minor by offering support and attention to gain their trust, gathers personal information about them, desensitizes them to sexual content by introducing sexually explicit conversation and pornographic imagery and exploits any vulnerabilities the child may have. Often, online predators pretend to be minors themselves to manipulate children into providing nude or partially nude images or videos of themselves. They then use the material to coerce children and teens into sending more graphic images and videos or a ransom. (See the definition of sextortion to learn more about how ransoms relate to grooming.)

Online enticement

An online predator’s communication with someone they believe to be a child on the internet with the intent to commit a sexual offense or abduction. For more information, visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s resource at Online Enticement: missingkids.org. NCMEC is a globally recognized entity in the fight against child victimization.  Since 2004, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has had a formal partnership in place with NCMEC.

Online predator

Someone who seeks contact with children and teens on the internet for abusive and exploitative purposes that are typically sexual. Predators use the internet to facilitate contact with children and teens to potentially harm them online or offline.


Screen capture/screenshot/screen recording

A picture or video taken of the content displayed on a digital screen, such as a cell phone, computer or tablet

Self-generated content

Sexually explicit images or videos produced by a child or teen themselves and commonly shared among peers.


Hurting or damaging your body on purpose, without suicidal intent, usually in response to intense emotional distress or negative thoughts or feelings. This can include cutting, burning, biting, scratching, picking at wounds or scabs so they don’t heal, pulling out hair, punching or hitting the body


Sending, receiving or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photos or videos via a cellphone, computer or other digital device. 


There are two types of sextortion.

  1. Traditional sextortion occurs when an online predator threatens or blackmails a victim into providing sexually explicit content; the online predator threatens to share this content with the public.
  2. Financial sextortion occurs when a predator demands money or gift cards in exchange for keeping the victim’s sexual content private.

Report an Incident

To report an incident, you can call the Know2Protect Tipline at 1-833-591-KNOW (5669) or visit the NCMEC CyberTipline at https://report.cybertip.org.

Last Updated: 04/17/2024
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