Livestreaming child sexual exploitation

Currently, there is no internationally agreed definition for the offence of livestreaming child sexual exploitation and abuse

Livestreaming of child sexual exploitation and abuse can take two main different forms:

  • It could consist in livestreaming an act of child sexual exploitation and abuse happening offline.
  • Or, it could refer to one or more children being forced into ‘performing’ sexual acts in front of a webcam. This usually happens in exchange for payment.

However, differently than in the case of ‘self-generated’ child sexual abuse material, there is often someone financially motivated that facilitates this form of abuse.

A key aspect of this form of child sexual exploitation and abuse online is it thrives on economic inequality.

It is not a case that viewers of livestreaming are predominantly from Europe, North America and Australia, while victims are often from regions of the world “with high levels of poverty, limited domestic child protection measures and easy access to children” (ECPAT 2017).

COVID-19 worsened the economic conditions of many people worldwide, leading to a rise in cases of livestreaming in exchange for money.

In the Philippines, a 265% increase in cases of livestreaming child sexual exploitation and abuse online was recorded during the quarantine period from March to May 2020

More proactive collaboration is needed between police, and online and financial service providers to enhance the detection of livestreamed abuse.


Find more detailed information about the issue of livestreaming child sexual exploitation and abuse, and child sexual abuse online, more widely, in our latest Global Threat Assessment.