Estimates of childhood exposure to online sexual harms and their risk factors

This WeProtect Global Alliance’s study, conducted by Economist Impact, explores the experiences of 2,000 18-year-olds across four European countries (France, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland) who had regular access to the internet as children to understand their experiences of and exposure to online sexual harms during childhood. 

Children today face a sustained threat of child sexual exploitation and abuse online. WeProtect Global Alliance’s latest Global Threat Assessment shows that the scale and complexity of this threat are increasing.

Europe is also home to a big portion of the abuse, with over 62% of child sexual abuse material online being hosted on servers based in the EU.

On 11 May 2022, the European Commission published a legislative initiative to prevent and combat child sexual abuse. WeProtect Global Alliance welcomes this proposal for a uniform approach to the detecting, reporting, and removing of child sexual abuse online.  

The perspectives and lived experiences of children are vital to understanding the nature, scale and complexity of online sexual harms and how to develop appropriate responses. 

Explore the survey data

Worryingly, many children reported experiencing sexual harms online during childhood. 

Experiences of online sexual harms against children in Europe are very high

The age of first exposure to sexually explicit content online is particularly shocking

Online harms are taking place at scale on private communication channels

Girls are disproportionately affected

Country profiles

Press release

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