ICMEC and Child Helpline International are pleased to announce the launch of a 27-month joint program aimed at promoting enhanced end-to-end support for child survivors of online violence, with a particular focus on sexual exploitation. ICMEC and Child Helpline International gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided for this program by the Fund to End Violence Against Children.
Advances in technology have transformed almost every aspect of our lives. Modern technology, a gift in many ways, also has been used to facilitate crimes against children, and sadly, to share repeatedly and indelibly in cyber-space evidence of a child’s victimization, sexual abuse and exploitation. Through the Internet and evolving technologies, offenders have increased access to and new methods for exploiting and harming children.
According to a 2009 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, 750,000 pedophiles are online at any given moment; and new data released by the International Telecommunication Union, the specialized UN agency for information and communication technologies, show that 830 million young people are online, representing 80% of the youth population in 104 countries. The 2018 Global Threat Assessment developed by the WePROTECT Global Alliance highlights that “increasingly offending is taking place online and includes coercing or extorting children into producing indecent images of themselves or engaging in sexual activity via webcams, which can be captured and distributed by offenders.”
ICMEC and Child Helpline International are renowned global organizations working to protect the rights of children and young people around the world. Through a strategic combination of needs assessment, legislative review, and both in-person and online training, the joint project will enable child helplines, law enforcement, healthcare professionals, educators, and other child-serving professionals – through capacity building and cross-sector collaboration – to better prevent, respond to, and support survivors of online child sexual abuse and exploitation.
The joint project emphasizes a multidisciplinary, culturally appropriate, victim-centered approach to enable five target countries – Jordan, Kenya, Peru, the Philippines, and Romania – to achieve a comprehensive response to online child sexual abuse and exploitation. The five target countries all have signed onto the Sustainable Development Agenda, of which goal 16.2 is aimed at “end[ing] abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children [by 2030]”; they are actively engaged in combating online child sexual abuse and exploitation; and they have a general legal framework in place for addressing online child sexual abuse and exploitation.
The ICMEC/Child Helpline International partnership will not stop at these five countries. Together, the organizations will encourage stakeholders around the world follow the training and incorporate lessons learned. There is power in the network. Children and youth will be better protected and cared for in the face of online sexual abuse and exploitation when their support mechanisms work together effectively to prevent and respond.