More than 300 million children victims of online sexual abuse every year

Mon, 05/27/2024 - 13:10 -- siteadmin

More than 300 million children across the globe are victims of online sexual exploitation and abuse each year, research suggests.

In what is believed to be the first global estimate of the scale of the crisis, researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that 12.6% of the world’s children have been victims of nonconsensual talking, sharing and exposure to sexual images and video in the past year, equivalent to about 302 million young people.

A similar proportion – 12.5% – had been subject to online solicitation, such as unwanted sexual talk that can include sexting, sexual questions and sexual act requests by adults or other youths.

Offences can also take the form of “sextortion”, where predators demand money from victims to keep images private, and abuse of AI deepfake technology.

The research suggested that the US is a particularly high-risk area. The university’s Childlight initiative – which aims to understand the prevalence of child abuse – includes a new global index, which found that one in nine men in the US (equivalent to almost 14 million) admitted online offending against children at some point.

Surveys found 7% of British men, equivalent to 1.8 million, admitted the same.

The research also found many men admitted they would seek to commit physical sexual offences against children if they thought it would be kept secret.

The chief executive of Childlight, Paul Stanfield, said: “This is on a staggering scale that in the UK alone equates to forming a line of male offenders that could stretch all the way from Glasgow to London – or filling Wembley Stadium 20 times over.

“Child abuse material is so prevalent that files are on average reported to watchdog and policing organisations once every second.

“This is a global health pandemic that has remained hidden for far too long. It occurs in every country, it’s growing exponentially, and it requires a global response.

“We need to act urgently and treat it as a public health issue that can be prevented. Children can’t wait.”

Stephen Kavanagh, the executive director of Interpol, said traditional law enforcement approaches were struggling to keep up. “We must do much more together at a global level, including specialist investigator training, better data sharing and equipment to effectively fight this pandemic and the harm it inflicts on millions of young lives around the world,” he said.

Grace Tame, a child sexual abuse survivor, who founded the Grace Tame Foundation, said a centralised global research database was essential to safeguarding children.

 Source: The Guardian