TODAY   |  September 05, 2013

Parents sue students for bullying, sextortion

The FBI says sextortion – blackmailing others to send explicit photos of themselves – is on the rise. NBC’s Janet Shamlian talks to one teen whose parents took legal action after she said she was a victim of the crime.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> story and growing danger online. people being blackmailed into sending explicit photos of themselves. nbc's janet shamlian has details on this story. good morning.

>> reporter: savannah, good morning to you. this is a disturbing trend. if you have teens or preteens, it could be happening in your own home. this morning, one girl speaks out saying she became a victim, and how it snow balled, she said, because she is afraid to tell her parents. oregon, a type of small town where annie harrison and her husband thought their daughter would grow up safe and protected.

>> we thought it was a great town and great to raise our kids there.

>> reporter: and it was a great place for josi, excelling in school and sports. until three years ago, when in seventh grade, she says, her boyfriend pressured her to send him a nude photo.

>> reporter: tell me why you sent the first picture.

>> i sent the first picture because i was a naive 12-year-old.

>> and she was frightened when the boy pressed for even more, making threats if she didn't, to put the one he had online. as you were doing it, did you not know it was wrong?

>> i knew it was wrong. i -- anyone would know that it's wrong.

>> you just didn't see a way out?

>> i saw no way out. and gave into pressure.

>> afraid to go to her parents, as the gossip spread, her mom went to her.

>> i questioned her about it. she denied it. i didn't have any reason not to believe her in it regards to it.

>> i didn't know who i could talk to. because i was too afraid of what my reputation would turn into . so i kept it to myself a lot of the time.

>> josi won't say how many photos she sent, using her ipod touch , but claims other boys began harassing her, and it went on for months.

>> it was humiliating. i couldn't even walk around my own town without people saying something to me.

>> what kind of names were you called?

>> oh, boy. probably about every name in the book. a whore, skank, slut.

>> the fbi reports a growing trend of teens and adults blackmailing others into sending explicit photos. they call it sextortion. you talked to school officials.

>> yes, i did.

>> did they take your complaint seriously?

>> i don't feel they did.

>> the school district tells nbc news, we are committed to upholding our students' safety and discipline policies but wouldn't comment further, citing privacy laws . josi says the bullying turned physical.

>> when she came home with bruises, i was done. you know? we can't do it anymore. just can't stay.

>> the harrisons left last fall, and filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against five teens and their parents for alleged involvement in sextortion and bullying. one of the boys' attorneys says there is another side to the story.

>> it's really easy to play the victim card. and just because you have a deck of victim cards doesn't mean you're really a victim. it doesn't mean that everything in the complaint is the full story.

>> josi is now 15, and unlike her friends, spends most of her time far from social media .

>> are you ever going to be able to send a text or picture again without really thinking about it?

>> oh, no. i think about everything i send. everything i do. i don't even post anything anymore, because i'm afraid of what's going to be said next.

>> yeah, this is something all parents need to be aware of. i have five children, four of them are teenagers right now. and i'm not sure i would know, savannah, if this was happening. because these kids don't tell their parents.

>> amazing story. and four teenagers.