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A psychologist from ChildFund’s partner organization Childline Kenya counsels a 7-year-old survivor of online sexual abuse.
*not her real name (and not pictured)
Around the globe, children are being targeted at an alarming rate by offenders seeking to exploit them online. As more and more children gain access to the internet and spend more time online, reports of online sexual abuse are skyrocketing.
Online sexual exploitation and abuse of children – or the production and online publication of visuals depicting the sexual abuse and exploitation of children – is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world. It might take the form of photographs, pre-recorded videos or livestreams. But no matter how these images and videos are produced, they have one thing in common: A child was abused in the process.
Any child, anywhere, can be targeted for online abuse and exploitation, whether they are recruited by perpetrators via the internet or within their own communities. These crimes have burgeoned since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. As schools around the world closed, children began to spend more and more time online, often without parental supervision, increasing their risk of being targeted by offenders. In high-poverty areas, children found themselves at even greater risk of being exploited for profit by parents, caregivers, relatives and friends who are desperate for income and sometimes do not fully understand the lasting harm that this type of abuse and exploitation has on children.
ChildFund has become a global leader in the fight against online sexual abuse and exploitation. Our work began in 2019 with our #ShutdownOSEC campaign in the Philippines as we teamed up with Child Rights Network, the leading civil society network focused on children in the country, in urging the government to take action against online sexual abuse. Now, we're tackling the issue on a global level through the ChildFund Alliance's WEB Safe & Wise campaign, as well as right here in the U.S.
We can put an end to these insidious crimes against the most vulnerable. But first, we must raise awareness of their prevalence, get more and better data on the issue, and fight for stronger laws to protect children.
We are leading the fight against online sexual abuse in several different countries:
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, public and media attention has largely centered on public health challenges and economic repercussions. However, there are secondary impacts that are no less devastating, including the online sexual exploitation and abuse of children.
The world of online gaming is seeing a rise in online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSEAC). Tech companies and gaming platforms must join the fight to stop this crime and keep kids safe.
How can we protect children from online exploitation and abuse? We can begin by understanding the different types of online abuse that can occur and how we can recognize, prevent and fight it.Read More
Children worldwide face a rising threat of online sexual exploitation and abuse. Governments, big tech, private and nonprofit organizations must come together to stop it.
Watch as ChildFund's Erin Kennedy explains the scope of the crime and how we all have a responsibility to shut down online sexual abuse.