Pandemic fuelled rise in child sexual abuse online: report

What is the News?

The Global Threat Assessment report 2021 has been released by WeProtect Global Alliance.

Note: WeProtect Global Alliance is a global movement of more than 200 governments, private sector companies and civil society organisations working together to transform the global response to child sexual exploitation and abuse online.

What is the purpose of the report?

The Global Threat Assessment report details the scale and scope of the threat of child sexual exploitation online and aims to encourage action on the issue to reduce the risk to children and prevent abuse before it happens.

What are the Key Findings of the Global Threat Assessment report?

Child sexual exploitation and online abuse: In the past two years, the reporting of child sexual exploitation and online abuse has reached its highest level. COVID-19 pandemic is one of the contributory factors behind the rise in reported incidents. 

Child Self Generated Sexual Material: There is also a rise in child ‘self-generated’ sexual material. According to Internet Watch Foundation, there is a 77% increase in child ‘self-generated’ sexual material from 2019 to 2020.

Study on Childhood Experiences: As part of the report, a global study of childhood experiences of more than 5,000 young adults (aged 18 to 20) across 54 countries was completed by Economist Impact. As per the study:

  • About 54% of the respondents had experienced at least one online sexual harm incident during childhood. 
  • Moreover, more than one in three respondents (34%) had been asked to do something sexually explicit online they were uncomfortable with during their childhood.
  • Respondents who identified as transgender/non-binary, LGBQ+ and/or disabled were more likely to experience online sexual harms during childhood.

Survey of Technology Companies: The report also featured a survey of technology companies that showed most were using tools to detect child sexual abuse material, but only 37% currently use tools to detect online grooming.

What are the recommendations of the Global Threat Assessment report?

Government must criminalise all offences relating to child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Prioritise prevention activities against abuse.

Create safe online environments for children.

Developers of online safety technologies should continue innovating to enhance the detection of child sexual abuse online.

All stakeholders involved in the response must educate communities on the risk and impact of child sexual abuse.

Source: This post is based on the article “Pandemic fuelled rise in child sexual abuse online: report” published in The Hindu on 21st October 2021.

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