On International Children’s Day and the United Nations International Day of the Parent, a coalition of child abuse survivor groups, child protection organisations, and parent associations are coming together to demand that EU leaders protect children from online sexual harm.
The coalition is launching a campaign that brings the voices and experiences of survivors, safeguarders and supporters calling on citizens of Europe to sign a petition that demands lawmakers to pass the European Commission’s proposal to prevent and combat child sexual abuse. The campaign, Every Second Counts, stems from the notion that every second two images of a child being sexually abused are shared online.
The legislation, if passed, would be the first of its kind at this scale, providing a template for a global response to an issue that is growing at an alarming rate.
Recent data published by the Internet Watch Foundation about the extent of this crime against children of all ages has greatly increased year on year. More images and videos involving the most heinous sexual abuse were found online in 2022 than ever before. Sickeningly over 80% of URLs containing sexual abuse of children aged 0-2 contained this category of material. They also found that commercial pages exploiting the sexual abuse of children have doubled since 2020. As in previous years, the majority of global reports of child sexual abuse material are hosted in an EU Member State.
The petition was launched by the Justice Initiative, a collection of 150 survivor-focused organisations from across 13 European countries, and is supported by the Child Safety On campaign, a coalition of child protection organisations spanning Europe.
Children are spending more and more time online through all manner of devices and platforms; the proposal looks to protect children wherever they are so they can live, learn, and thrive in their digital worlds without the threat of online child sexual abuse.
The time to act is now. Every second counts.