the issue of online child sexual exploitation

The Issue

Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact.
It can occur through use of technology.

Technology trends

Technology has changed our world, but not always for the better

Social environment

How entry into the digital world is causing a problem for some

Children online

Young people are increasingly vulnerable to harmful online interactions

Offender behaviours

Understanding the behaviour of online abusers requires more study and analysis

What is online child sexual exploitation and abuse?

The rapid expansion of digital technology and increased access to the Internet have transformed the lives of children and young people worldwide in both positive and negative ways. Technology offers remarkable possibilities to people everywhere. But at the same time, it has never been easier for people who want to sexually exploit children to make contact with potential victims around the world. And then share images of their abuse and encourage each other to commit further crimes. As technology advances, new forms of this crime emerge.

Online child sexual exploitation and abuse includes:

  • the production, possession and distribution of child sexual abuse material online
  • the grooming of potential child victims online with the intention of sexual exploitation
  • the live streaming of child sexual exploitation and abuse

The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual.

Behind every image, video or screen, there is a real child being sexually abused.

The scale of the problem, in terms of reports to law enforcement and civil society, is increasing at an alarming rate. Behind every one of these cases there is a child who needs to be safeguarded and supported. This tide of cases increases pressure on all WePROTECT Global Alliance members: governments, law enforcement, civil society and industry. As internet connectivity grows, particularly in the Global South, offenders are able to find and exploit new victims.