Protecting Children Online

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A psychologist from ChildFund’s partner organization Childline Kenya counsels a 7-year-old survivor of online sexual abuse.


A psychologist from ChildFund’s partner organization Childline Kenya counsels a 7-year-old survivor of online sexual abuse.



“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)



Together, we can shut down online sexual abuse and exploitation.

Around the globe, children are being targeted at an alarming rate by perpetrators seeking to exploit them online. As more and more children gain access to the internet and spend more time online, reports of online sexual exploitation and abuse are skyrocketing.

Online sexual exploitation and abuse – or acts of a sexually exploitative or abusive nature carried out against a child that have, at some stage, a connection to the online environment – 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 exploitation and abuse, whether they are targeted by perpetrators via the internet or within their own communities. These crimes have burgeoned since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. As schools around the world closed, children began to spend more and more time online, often without parental supervision, increasing their risk of being targeted by perpetrators. Making matters worse is the fact that it is often the child's own family members facilitating the abuse, with some committing online sexual exploitation and abuse out of a misguided attempt to lift their families out of poverty and sometimes without understanding the lasting harm that this has on children.

ChildFund has become a global leader in the fight against online sexual exploitation and abuse. Our work began in 2019 with our #ShutdownOSEC campaign in the Philippines as we teamed up with Child Rights Network, the leading civil society network focused on children in the country, in urging the government to take action against online sexual abuse. Now, we're tackling the issue on a global level through the ChildFund Alliance's WEB Safe & Wise campaign, as well as right here in the U.S. with the #TakeItDown campaign, which puts pressure on the U.S. government to require tech companies to detect, report and remove child sexual abuse materials on their platforms.

We can put an end to these insidious crimes against the most vulnerable. But first, we must raise awareness of their prevalence, educate children, youth, caregivers and trusted adults on online risks and protection best practices, get more and better data on the issue, and fight for stronger laws to protect children.

Infographic containing information about online sexual abuse.

How is ChildFund working to protect kids online?

We are leading the fight against online sexual exploitation and abuse in several different countries:

  • In the U.S., through support from Oak Foundation, ChildFund is leading the END Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (OSEAC) Coalition, a nonprofit coalition dedicated to ending online abuse through advocacy in the U.S.
  • Around the world, the ChildFund Alliance's WEB Safe & Wise campaign focuses on addressing the risks emerging in the digital environment while empowering children and young people to become smart digital citizens.
  • In Africa, ChildFund signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union Commission to co-lead regional efforts to prevent and address online sexual exploitation and abuse of children.  This includes promoting the African Union’s Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Strategy and Plan of Action and advocating Member States to adopt policies to prevent and address online sexual exploitation and abuse.
  • 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 2022, our Kenya team received a $1 million grant from the End Violence Fund to lead a three-year project, Safe CLICS, to strengthen Kenyan government agencies’ capacity to prevent and respond to OSEAC, improve children’s self-protection skills with the support of caregivers and communities, strengthen public awareness and improve connections to reporting and referral services.
  • In Ecuador, we launched the #NaveguemosSeguros (Let’s Navigate Safely) campaign and website, which includes practical tools, conversation guides and games aimed at educating teachers, caregivers, children and youth about online risks. ChildFund is also working with the Ministry of Education to raise awareness of online risks amongst teachers and school professionals and support the detection of suspected cases via the National Education System.
  • In the Philippines, in addition to the #ShutDownOSEC campaign that led to national policy change, ChildFund has been leading a child and youth training program that supports participants in becoming “OSEAC Warriors” who educate their peers about online safety.
  • In Mexico, ChildFund, through the #MiVozExige #SeguridadDigital​ (#MyVoiceDemands #DigitalSafety), is helping children and youth to use their voices to push duty bearers to do more to protect children online. Working in middle and high schools, ChildFund supports children and youth in learning how to analyze situations and problems in the online environment, develop solutions and engage duty bearers in their communities to bring about positive change.
  • In Indonesia, ChildFund has partnered with ChildFund Australia to implement Swipe Safe, a comprehensive program aimed at building children’s and youth’s digital literacy to support their safe navigation of and engagement with the online world. ChildFund also recently published a report, Insight on Cyberbullying & Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children and Youth in Indonesia, that examined children’s online behaviors and exposure to online risks.
  • In Bolivia, ChildFund language the Cuidados Digitales (Digital Care) website, which provides and interactive experience for children and youth to learn about online safety and how to make safe choices while navigating the online environment. The website also hosts resources for caregivers and teachers on different online safety related topics and how to support children and youth.

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Want to Learn More?

Watch as ChildFund's Erin Kennedy explains the scope of the crime and how we all have a responsibility to shut down online sexual abuse.