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.

Focus areas

The issue is complex. To help our members focus on specific areas, we have categorised the below as being important to understanding and dealing with the issue of online child sexual exploitation and abuse:

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.

The internet was created by and for adults; it can be unsafe for children to explore. Every phone and computer is a potential gateway for offenders seeking to sexually exploit children.

Technology offers remarkable possibilities to people everywhere. 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:

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

To better address sexual exploitation and abuse of children online and build a digital world designed to protect children, we must first understand the challenges we face. We need to collaborate to understand and analyse the scale of the issue, including the perspectives of children and survivors.

Political and industry leadership are needed to help generate solutions to protect children and build an online world that is designed first and above all to be safe for them.