Public Opinion is Clear: Urgent Legislation Required to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation! Read the story

New legislation could hold big tech accountable for the dissemination of child sexual abuse materials.

Posted on Feb 22, 2023

PRESS RELEASE: 22 February 2023

The European Union is leading the charge to protect the safety and rights of children online  

We want children to feel safe at school, but who is ensuring that they are also safe online?

On the European Day for Victims of Crime, ECPAT is proud to launch the Right in Front of Us (#ChildSafetyOn) campaign in partnership with 13 organisations dedicated to protecting children’s safety and rights online.  

Research from WeProtect Global Alliance & Economist Impact report shows that an average school classroom of 20 children may have as many as 13 children who have experienced a form of online sexual harm. But a solution to online sexual abuse is right in front of us. 

New legislation is being considered by the EU that would help stop online child sexual abuse. This law would require the EU to create a legal obligation for companies like Meta, Tik Tok and Google, to identify, remove, and report any child sexual abuse material on their platforms. Crucially, those companies will also be held accountable for failing to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse. We are working with teachers and educators across Europe to help mobilise their voice in making children safe in their digital lives away from the classroom.  

“While the line between children’s online and offline interactions is increasingly blurred, the impact of sexual abuse crosses all boundaries. Schools provide a vital space for prevention through dialogue with children, for recognising signs of abuse, and for providing a supportive environment in which children can seek help. Empowering educators means empowering children.”   

~Amy Crocker, Head of Child Protection and Technology at ECPAT International 


The legislation would be the first of its kind, providing a template for a global response to an issue that is growing at an alarming rate. Children across the world are more vulnerable to online sexual abuse and violence than at any other time, and the EU has become a hub for the hosting of photos and videos of child sexual abuse.  

With the #ChildSafetyOn campaign, Missing Children Europe, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, ECPAT International, Brave Movement, Canadian Centre for Child Protection, Internet Watch Foundation, NSPCC, End Violence Against Children, Thorn, 5 Rights Foundation, Terre des Hommes, WeProtect Global Alliance, Child Helpline International and Eurochild aim to raise awareness of the pressing need to protect children online and support the European Commission proposal to both prevent and combat child sexual abuse online. 

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 campaign includes a petition launched by the Justice Initiative, a survivor focused NGO, a hero video, website, and social media content. The website and social media content is available in EN, FR, IT, ES, DE & NL. 

Click here to learn more about the campaign and find out how you can take action.