Going by the prevalence of child online abuses, which a report put at an 87 percent increase, Brave Movement and Child Witness Institute have recommended eight approaches that will ameliorate the menace of such abuses.
- Public Health Approaches: Prioritise prevention and invest in interventions targeting those who have or are at risk of perpetrating or experiencing abuse. If we only invest in responding to the problem after the abuse has happened, we are failing children.
- Centre Children’s Rights and Perspectives: Design interventions that empower children, remove barriers to abuse identification, and enable them to hold online service providers accountable.
- Implement Globally Aligned Legislation: Prevent offenders from exploiting legal loopholes by enacting globally consistent internet regulations.
- Adopt a Safety by Design Approach: Implement innovative approaches to technology design that prioritise user safety from the outset, not as an afterthought.
- Additional findings:
- Chasm in Children’s Perceptions: A significant gap exists between children’s perceptions of online risks and the actual manifestation of online abuse, with evidence showing that perpetrators are often known to the child and private platforms as where most sexual harm occurs. This highlights the need for improved age-appropriate online safety information and accessible reporting processes.
- Pornography as a Precursor? The report highlights emerging evidence of a correlation between the frequent viewing of pornography and accessing child sexual abuse material.
- Minority groups targeted: Vulnerable minorities and marginalised groups, including those based on sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or disability, are disproportionately exposed to online sexual harm.
- Global instability increases abuse: Poverty, inequality, and global crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and climate change, all contribute to the rise in child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Meanwhile, Kanga Rasi, Brave Movement, Africa Campaign Manager has said: “We are living in a world where every child, including survivors like myself, who have internet access faces the threat of sexual violence, exploitation, and abuse. While technology has the potential to bring about positive change, we must not tolerate the presence of sexual predators on digital platforms, endangering our children and survivors and subjecting them to lifelong trauma. Child sexual violence online is an urgent global crisis that transcends boundaries and necessitates a united global response.”
Also, Karen Hollely, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, of The Child Witness Institute: “The WeProtect Global Threat Assessment Report provides ongoing insight into the global response to online child sexual exploitation and abuse. There is considerable work being done to address this issue, and it is because of these reports that programmatic efforts are being made in many countries and, importantly, by many children. Despite this work, however, we are all still racing against time to find the best possible ways to prevent children from being exploited, abused, misinformed and misguided online.