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Protecting Children Online

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“I kept asking myself, 'Why did this happen to me?'”
—Masipag*, 12-year-old victim of online exploitation, Philippines

*not her real name (and not pictured)

 

 

 

Join our fight to shut down online sexual abuse and exploitation

Around the globe, children are being targeted at an alarming rate by offenders seeking to exploit them online. As more and more children gain access to the internet and spend more time online, particularly due to the closure of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, the incidence of online sexual abuse and exploitation reports is skyrocketing.


Online sexual exploitation and abuse of children (OSEAC) – or the production and online publication of visuals depicting the sexual abuse and exploitation of children – is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world. It might take the form of photographs, pre-recorded videos or livestreams. But no matter how these images and videos are produced, they have one thing in common: A child was abused in the process.


Who is at risk?

Any child, anywhere, can be targeted for online abuse and exploitation, whether they are recruited by sex offenders via the internet or within their own communities. In high-poverty areas, a child’s own loved ones will sometimes allow them to be exploited in exchange for money. And OSEAC has burgeoned due to the pandemic. As schools around the world have closed, children have spent more and more time online, often without parental supervision, increasing their risk of being targeted by offenders. Amid ongoing lockdowns, children have found themselves at even greater risk of being exploited for profit by parents, caregivers, relatives and friends who are desperate for income and sometimes do not fully understand the lasting harm that this type of abuse and exploitation has on children.


ChildFund has become a global leader in the fight against OSEAC. Our work began in 2019, even before COVID-19, with our #ShutdownOSEC campaign in the Philippines. We joined with Child Rights Network, the leading civil society network focused on children in the Philippines, in urging the government to prioritize OSEAC and take stronger measures to address it. ChildFund and this network also brought together local youth, policymakers, the media and technology companies to increase their understanding of OSEAC and ensure their commitment to addressing the issue.


We can put an end to these insidious crimes against the most vulnerable. But first, we must raise awareness of OSEAC’s prevalence, get more and better data on the issue, and fight for stronger laws to protect children.


OSEAC fast facts infographic
Download and share our fact sheet on OSEAC.

How is ChildFund working to protect kids online?

We are leading the fight against OSEAC in several different countries:

  • In Kenya, ChildFund partnered with Google in 2021 to launch an online safety project with the Communications Authority of Kenya, telecom leaders, and civil society organizations to deliver the first comprehensive campaign of its kind.

  • In the Philippines, Indonesia and Ecuador, ChildFund has developed programs to address systemic issues and root causes through grassroots community awareness campaigns, at-home training activities, educational games for children and their families, and engaging the tech sector to amplify our reach to a broader audience.

  • In Mexico, ChildFund is partnering with the federal government to increase awareness of and efforts to address OSEAC, including participating in government-led initiatives like National Cybersecurity Week.

  • In Ecuador, ChildFund is leading the development of that country’s national hotline for reporting OSEAC in collaboration with the government and INHOPE, a global network of CSAM reporting hotlines. The software will be used to analyze images reported through the application and investigate their origin. Also, we have been partnering with child protection experts to hold workshops on OSEAC for law enforcement officials, educating them on the harms of OSEAC as well as training them on CSAM reporting software and the other reporting mechanisms they should use to combat the crime.

  • In the U.S., through support from Oak Foundation, ChildFund is bringing together domestic and internationally focused civil society organizations that are working to address OSEAC from different angles – including awareness raising, survivor support, law enforcement training, technology development – into one space to break down silos and identify better ways of working together to advance stronger, more holistic OSEAC-related policies.


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Want to Learn More?


Watch what ChildFund’s advocacy and child protection staff had to say during a recent peer learning exchange webinar on OSEAC.

 



 



 

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