INHOPE | Preventing Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
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Preventing Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Every child deserves to grow up in a safe environment, and we believe prevention is a critical approach to achieving this goal. Therefore, this National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we outline preventative measures at each part of the Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) chain and demonstrate that everyone can have a positive impact on protecting children online.

Prevention on a Societal Level

Preventing child sexual abuse is often addressed through awareness raising, digital education and online safety tools. And while these are all critical measures, there is also a need to address this issue on a deeper, societal level. Only by understanding where the abuse starts, and how it develops can we address it at the root and make a sustainable, long-lasting impact on the well-being of children. Addressing sexually abusive norms in our culture is one of the first steps in tackling these offences. You can read more about how to prevent the reinforcement of harmful gender stereotypes here.

Prevention Initiatives
In order to bring the subject of child sexual abuse out from the darkness and into the light, we must also recognise that there are people with a sexual interest in children. Therefore, tackling child sexual abuse at the root must also include initiatives that prevent people from developing or acting on sexual interest in children. We can do that by providing them with relevant resources and encouraging them to seek professional help to prevent offending behaviours.

Prevention through Education

Education starts with our youngest citizens. At a young age, we are more receptive to retaining new information, which is why teaching children about digital safety is so essential. Becoming comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations with young people is critical to protect them in the long run. Whether you are a parent, guardian, educator, aunt, uncle or a minor wanting to educate yourself - below you can find important resources on how to stay safe online:

Preventing Offences on Online Platforms

Young people are naturally curious, tend to take risks and explore their sexuality both offline and online. This is why education is not always enough, and we must also implement appropriate digital safeguards either by creating platforms that are safe by design or by including parental controls through which parents can create a more age-appropriate experience for their children on certain apps. This can include both offline approaches, such as camera covers, and specific rules on where and when digital devices can be used - or online approaches such as adjusting platform settings to be age-appropriate for your child, knowing which apps they use and who they interact with online.

Preventing Revictimisation

Preventing CSAM also means preventing re-victimisation. In cases in which abuse has already happened, there are still ways we can prevent further harm to the victim. This is where we must act fast to get the material removed from the internet.

  • ECPAT Sweden has published resources for children whose intimate images are being circulated against their will.
  • In collaboration with Revenge Porn Helpline from the U.K., brought to Greece a new innovative tool designed to support victims of non-consensual intimate image abuse.
  • If you’ve come across sexual content of yourself or another minor, contact your local hotline to have it removed by clicking here.

INHOPE's mission is to eradicate Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) from the digital world and to reach this goal we must focus on prevention initiatives and early intervention. Prevention is a united effort, and all of us have a role to play in creating positive experiences for young digital users. The internet is a space full of learning, fun, socialisation and opportunities - we just need to know how to use it safely. The truth is, that all of us have a responsibility in facilitating a safe digital space for children, and the good thing is, that all of us have the power to do so.

Safer Internet Day would not be possible without the support of the European Union. Currently, the funding is provided by the Connecting Europe Facility programme (CEF). In the future, actions will be funded through the Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL). Find out more about the European Commission’s new European strategy for a better internet for kids (BIK+) on the EC website.

Preventing Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Becoming comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations with young people is critical to protect them in the long run.