The scale of child abuse online demands a global response – Gadget


The scale of online child sexual exploitation and abuse is growing at such a rapid rate that a global response is needed to create safe online environments for children, according to a new report from the Global WeProtect Alliance .

WeProtect Global Alliance is a global movement of over 200 governments, private sector companies and civil society organizations working together to transform the global response to child sexual exploitation and abuse online. Its 2021 global threat assessment shows that over the past two years, reports of online child sexual exploitation and abuse have peaked, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC ) of the United States processing 60,000 reports of child sexual abuse online every day.

Since the 2019 Global Threat Assessment, the nature of the damage has continued to grow and diversify. Over the past two years, reporting of online child sexual exploitation and abuse has reached its highest levels, with the Covid-19 pandemic being a significant factor behind the surge in reported incidents. The scale and rate of change is unprecedented, with over 3,000,000 accounts registered on the 10 most dangerous child sexual abuse sites on the dark web, and in May 2021, Europol took down one site. child abuse on the dark web with more than 400,000 registered. users.

However, the global response to these crimes requires a new approach. On average, 30 analysts from the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) process 60,000 Cyber ​​Tipline reports of child sexual abuse online every day.

The increase in ‘self-generated’ child sexual material is another trend that challenges the existing response, with the Internet Watch Foundation seeing a 77% increase in ‘self-generated’ child sexual material from 2019 to 2020.

Iain Drennan, Executive Director of WeProtect Global Alliance, says: “The internet has become a central part of the lives of children around the world, especially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the past two years, we have seen an increase in the scale and complexity of online child sexual abuse. This report should act as a wake-up call to all of us; together, we must scale up the global response and create a safer digital world for all children. “

Online sexual harm is on the rise around the world and remains a pervasive problem on the African continent. 57% of respondents in Southern Africa and 37% of respondents in Central Africa have experienced at least one incident of sexual violence online. The 2021 Global Threat Assessment Report details the scale and scope of the threat of online sexual exploitation of children and aims to encourage action on the issue to reduce risk to children and prevent abuse. abuse before they happen.

Main lessons from the report

1. The scale and complexity of child sexual abuse and exploitation is increasing and beyond the global capacity to respond.

2. Prevention must be a priority. While strong law enforcement and judicial response are essential, a truly sustainable strategy must include active prevention of abuse. There is a need to ensure the creation of safe online environments where children can thrive.

3. To tackle this complex global problem, all those charged with protecting children online must work together to dramatically improve the response. It is hoped that the sexual exploitation and abuse of children is high on the global agenda, that online safety technologies become more accessible and advanced, and that governments do more.

As part of the report, a global study of the childhood experiences of more than 5,000 young adults (aged 18-20) in 54 countries was carried out by Economist Impact. More than one in three respondents (34%) had been asked to do something sexually explicit online that they were uncomfortable with as a child.

The report also included a survey of tech companies which showed that most used tools to detect child pornography (87% use hash-matching images), but only 37% currently use tools to detect child pornography. grooming online.

WeProtect Global Alliance’s Global Strategic Response (GSR) proposes a global strategy to end child sexual exploitation and abuse, calling for greater voluntary cooperation, transparency and implementation of online safety technologies, more regulation strict to make online environments safer for children and increased investment. in law enforcement.

Cornelius Williams, director of the child protection program team at UNICEF, says; “It is clear that technology is radically changing the nature of online child sexual exploitation and abuse around the world, including on the African continent. No country is immune. Offenders have new ways of accessing and abusing children. It is crucial that countries invest in child protection systems and services to prevent abuse from happening in the first place. This requires a coordinated effort within each country and across the world. “

LGBTQ + children are more at risk of being sexually abused online

The Economist Impact survey also found that girls and respondents who identified as transgender / non-binary, LGBTQ + and / or disabled were more likely to experience sexual harm online as children, and respondents who identified as as racial or ethnic minorities were less likely to seek help. :

  • Overall, 57% of women and 48% of men surveyed reported at least one sexual harm online
  • 59% of respondents who identified as transgender / non-binary experienced sexual harm online, compared to 47% of cisgender respondents
  • 65% of respondents who identified as LGBTQ + experienced sexual harm online, compared to 46% non-LGBTQ +
  • 57% of respondents with disabilities have experienced sexual harm online, compared to 48% of respondents without disabilities
  • 39% of respondents from racial or ethnic minorities would remove or block someone sending them sexually explicit content, compared to 51% of those who did not belong to minorities.
  • 17% of racial or ethnic minority respondents spoke to a trusted adult or peer about the content, compared to 24% of non-minority respondents

To download the full report, visit

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