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Tuesday 20th of October 2020

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Member state responses to prevent and combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse

Victoria Baines
Council of Europe


Information and communication technologies (ICTs) now afford adults and children alike a multitude of opportunities to create and share content, make and maintain friendships, and communicate with people all over the world. Just as many aspects of our everyday lives have moved online, so too have the threats from serious criminality, including child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA). At a very general level, online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA) consists of offences concerning Child Sexual Abuse Material (referred to in some legislative instruments as “Child Pornography”) and offences or behaviours concerning sexual contact with children using ICTs, often referred to as “grooming” or “online solicitation”.

For the last two decades, Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) produced offline by abusers has been shared online with like-minded individuals. Fifteen years ago, when online chat rooms, social media and games first became popular, some adults began to use these to contact children and young people, arranging to meet for sexual activity. While these offences persist in large numbers, more recently law enforcement and civil society first responders have reported an increasing trend for solicitation of images and videos directly from children, often using aggression or coercion. The global child protection community has also seen the emergence of “live streamed” sexual abuse, in which offenders in one country pay to watch live offline, contact abuse via the medium of video chat platforms.

The platforms and methods may change, but the impact on child victims does not. As this report goes on to discuss, victims of OCSEA require immediate safeguarding from ongoing abuse, but may also need many years of therapeutic assistance to recover. With regard specifically to the online element of exploitation and abuse, victims’ knowledge or belief that material depicting their abuse continues to be in circulation can cause lasting damage. Victims of grooming and sexual extortion may require special assistance as they get older to establish personal relationships of trust and intimacy. To meet this need, and to deliver successful prevention, awareness raising and criminal justice measures, countries are finding that extensive collaboration is required not only across different government authorities, but also with stakeholders in other sectors, including civil society organisations and ICTs.



Year Language

2019 English

Category Type

Grey Literature Report


Abuse, Child, Internet, Pornography

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