The online world is moving fast. In the last three decades, our lives have transformed beyond recognition. From days when we were connecting online from old-LAN computers and cell phones, we now find ourselves immersed in an uncontrolled digital revolution, with Artificial Intelligence and the realms of the Metaverse knocking at our screens.
Our lifestyles and the ones of all children have changed. Online, we now connect with friends and peers, focus on our interests, and learn something new every day. We are not only working remotely from everywhere and having thousands of online learning opportunities, but we now can also enjoy new forms of arts and exhibitions, use new means of communication, and attend online social gatherings.
Yet, as our digital world expands, so do its challenges. Beneath the wonders of the online world lies a darker reality, which contains new forms of dangers such as identity theft, data breaches, violence and discrimination. Worst among these harms, child sexual abuse and exploitation is increasing and evolving every year. As the digital world hasn’t been designed with child safety in mind, we must do everything we can to patch up this flaw.
Digital technology, now an indispensable part of all our lives, is unfortunately also used by people with harmful intentions to facilitate the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. But this does not mean we are helpless to act against manifestations of child sexual abuse online or to work together to protect the most vulnerable, children.
Child sexual abuse and exploitation is happening online, often out of our sight, but with real consequences for the children around us. To prevent harm, it is essential to comprehend the workings of the online world and implement measures that safeguard children from online sexual abuse—without resorting to a complete prohibition of internet access or other restrictive measures. It’s about knowing and using a range of methods and tools to both protect and empower children in their digital lives.
With a focus on the tools to prevent child sexual abuse online, ECPAT calls on government officials, tech companies, professionals, and caregivers to unite and activate on this issue. How? The answers lie in becoming aware of the risks and manifestations of child sexual abuse online and learn which tools are available to fight this horrendous crime. It’s a collective responsibility to educate ourselves and act, ensuring children benefit from the internet and are protected from harm.
ECPAT International’s opinion on the topic of child sexual abuse online and the European Commission’s proposal to Combat and Prevent Child Sexual Abuse online. Interview broadcasted in the German MDR/AR media journal.
Available in: German
Available in: English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish
The VOICE project is a collaboration between three child rights organisations towards a common goal to strengthen children’s digital rights and online safety: ECPAT International, Eurochild, and Terre des Hommes Netherlands on behalf of the Down to Zero Alliance. It aims to listen to the views of children and caregivers and share their insights and opinions about online child safety to inform policy at the national and EU level, as well as globally.
This insights brief offers a preview of the valuable perspectives of parents and caregivers on online safety, along with some initial reflections from children. It’s important to note that the insights presented are preliminary, as the children’s perspectives from all participating countries have not been fully collected and analyzed at this stage. By exploring the nuanced aspects of children’s online safety, we’re setting the stage for meaningful discussions, paving the way for the in-depth report to be presented in March 2024.
Available in: English
This document summarises the learnings obtained from the (Child) Sex Offender Registry: Working Paper and the Technical Considerations for the Development of (Child) Sex Offender Registries.
This analysis delves into the complexities surrounding child sex offender registries, questioning their efficacy in both crime prevention and child protection. Our reporting examines the moral quandaries of public versus restricted access, advocating for a risk-based, multi-agency approach over a system solely based on offences. Concluding with key recommendations, it emphasises the need for a balanced, evidence-based strategy that pairs enforcement with preventive education and global collaboration.
Available in: English
In 2023, ECPAT International and NSPCC conducted a large survey on child safety online, in partnership with Savanta. Over 25,000 adults were surveyed across 15 countries in the EU and the UK on their understanding and views on the balance between personal privacy and the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation on the internet.
The results show unwavering support for child safety online and the need for new legislation to protect children from online sexual abuse and exploitation, including regulation of online platforms. A large majority support the use and development of automated tools to detect child sexual abuse and exploitation across a variety of platforms, including end-to-end encrypted environments. Most importantly, most respondents recognise and understand the importance of compromise between online privacy and child safety online.
Please find the Executive Summaries here.
Available in: Austrian, Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish
The “Ensemble” project is a three-year joint initiative (2022-2024) of ECPAT International, ECPAT France, and national partners Keoogo (Burkina Faso), SOS Violences Sexuelles (Côte d’Ivoire), Monde Des Enfants (Guinea), and Association Nigérienne pour le Traitement de la Délinquance et la prévention des crimes (Niger).
In the first year of the project, ECPAT International and its partners explored the issue of sexual exploitation of children in the context of travel and transport, through research aimed at documenting local knowledge and understanding of this problem in each country, as well as assessing practices and identifying localised responses. The results of the research have been consolidated in this document.
Available in: English