Despite recent global attention on child sexual exploitation and abuse, including in the online environment, children and young adults with these experiences continue to be missing voices from the dialogue. Many children remain unidentified by law enforcement and support services and do not disclose their experiences at all. Of those who do, rarely are their views sought on how to improve prevention and response services.
Although important efforts have been made by some survivor activists and organisations working with survivors, there remain limited opportunities for survivors to exchange views and experiences, promote solidarity, and to develop a collective force for change. We want to change that.
Creating trauma-informed safe and ethically appropriate spaces for consulting survivors must be prioritised and these insights translated into strategy, policy and action by policy makers, service providers and law enforcement.
Amplifying the voices of survivors
We have partnered with ECPAT International to conduct important research that puts the voices of survivors of child sexual exploitation and abuse online at the forefront of the response to this problem. The project aims to directly engage with survivors to ensure their perspectives on solutions are clearly represented.
The project will use survivor-centred methods to engage with survivors of online child sexual abuse and exploitation, as well as with frontline workers who are currently supporting these young people.
The project involves three key stages with the first two taking place in six countries in the Latin American and Eastern European Regions and the third will involve participants from across the world. The two country-based activities are:
Conversations with survivors of online child sexual exploitation and abuse
These structured conversations will gather recommendations for service design and delivery from the participants. Up to 50 survivors (aged 18-24) from three Latin American and three Eastern European countries will take part. The methodology is intensely survivor-centred, drawing on narrative therapeutic concepts, and is designed to minimise potential harms. It extensively engages the expertise of a highly experienced trauma-informed practitioner who co-facilitates the conversation with the survivor and a local practitioner whom the young person generally already has a relationship with. The conversation is led by the young person and guided by one key question: “What would you like to tell us about your experience of sexual abuse and exploitation online and your recovery?”
Frontline providers’ survey
A survey developed by ECPAT International for an ongoing global research project, Disrupting Harm, will be adapted in order to explore the context and scope that support services are offered for survivors of online child sexual exploitation. Around 100 participants in each of the target countries will take part.
Global experts roundtable
The findings from the survivor conversations and frontline worker survey will serve as the basis for an expert meeting with survivor-led organisations, academics and expert practitioners from across WePROTECT Global Alliance’s membership and network. The outcomes from the first two stages will inform the discussion and added insights from the experts roundtable on this data will be used to develop guidance and recommendations to improve service provision to survivors that address current gaps and challenges.
We expect the outputs from this project to be published in Autumn 2021.