TRIGGER WARNING – Reader may become overwhelmed.
The following student case studies are true stories modified to protect the identity of the individuals. These events have either been reported in the news or have been released by the police.
Case Study of a Student Recruited at the Mall
Noel was at the mall with some friends when they were approached by a young guy in his early twenties. He told the girls that he won a $500 gift card from the radio and asked the girls if they could help him spend it. The girls decided that it would be okay, because they were at the mall and felt safe.
After spending money purchasing new things, a friend of Noel’s was picked up by her mom and the other drove home, leaving Noel to take the bus alone. The young guy she spent the day with noticed her at the bus stop. The young guy approached Noel and said, “Hey, do you need a ride home?” He saw her hesitation and said, “Hey, you don’t need to worry! You spent the whole day with me. I’m not a bad guy. I’m just offering you a ride home.” Noel took him up on his offer and got a ride home.
Noel was surprised how easy it was to talk to him and how relatable he was. Before she got out of the car, they exchanged social media names. During the next few weeks, Noel did not stop messaging the young guy. She shared with him how her mom has been picking up more shifts at work, her dad is drinking again, and she recently lost her virginity and was afraid to tell her parents.
One day the guy messaged her, “Hi Noel, turns out the gift card was fake and I need your help to get the money back or else I’m going to jail.” Noel responded, “You know my family does not have $500 to give right now. I can’t give it to you.” Very quickly the tone of the guys messaging changed, “If you don’t help me get back this money, I am going to tell your parents and make posts to your friends about everything you told me these past few weeks. All you need to do is come to a party tonight and take your shirt off for $200.”
Force: Not represented in this example.
Fraud: Tricking Noel and her friends into buying things for free at the mall.
Coercion: Threatening to tell the victim’s community about all the secrets she shared with him. Black mailing the victim into paying the money back.
Case Study of a Student Recruited at a School Football Game
Jessie was at a homecoming football game her school was hosting. Jessie met a senior, however she had never seen this senior around before and assumed she was new to the school. The senior and Jessie had a lot in common and Jessie was having a good time.
When the event was over, the senior asked, “Hey, what is your number? I’d love to hang out with you again.” Jessie responded, “I’m sorry, I don’t have a cell phone, my mom can’t afford to buy me one right now.” The senior responded, “Oh that’s no problem, I’ll go get you one,” and the senior walked to her car.
The senior drove to a gas station, bought a phone, and returned to the high school. “Here you go” the senior said while she handed Jessie the phone. “Oh I can’t take this,” Jessie said “I don’t have a job or anything to pay you back.” The senior responded, “Oh sure you can! All you have to do is come to my apartment, we will post photos of you online as an ad and you can sell massages.” A week passed where Jessie was physically and sexually abused by men.
Force: Jessie was physically abused and sexually assaulted.
Fraud: Jessie was tricked into believing she was going to be giving massages.
Coercion: Jessie felt she did not have a choice. She wanted to pay the senior back for buying the phone.
Case Study of a Student Recruited through a Dating App
Alex was on a dating app and was looking to find a boyfriend since friends at school were meeting others through dating apps. Alex met a few guys and they followed each other on their social media.
One day, Alex was really frustrated with his parents and posted online, “Ugh!! My parents are so annoying! I just want to get out of this house!” One of the guys he met through a dating app saw his post and messaged him, “Hey baby, what’s got you upset?” Alex and this guy spent the whole day talking. Alex really appreciated how kind, understanding, and supportive the guy was towards him.
A few days later, the guy asked Alex to go on a date with him and promised to pick him up. The guy picked up Alex and when he got in the car, the guy explained to Alex that they were not going to date each other. Instead Alex was going to be having sex with men and the guy was going to keep the money. When Alex tried getting out of the car the first time, the guy punched Alex in the face. The second time Alex tried getting out of the car, the guy pulled out a gun and threatened to kill Alex’s family if he ran.
Force: The guy physically abused Alex.
Fraud: The guy tricked Alex into thinking he liked him and that they were going on a date.
Coercion: The guy threatened to kill Alex’s family.
For student accessible case studies, classroom lesson plans, activities, and more resources, please refer to http://projectstarfish.education/.
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