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The Issue

Sexual violence against children occurs all around the world. Children are at risk of victimisation everyday, including in the online environment. 

Everyone has the responsibility to work to end sexual violence against children, to ensure that all children can enjoy a non-violent childhood.

Every child has the right to be safe from any kind of violence. At Protect Children, we do our utmost to ensure that no child is subjected to sexual harassment, grooming or any kind of sexual violence.

Sexual violence against children constitutes a significant global human rights and public health issue, with long lasting devastating impacts on children, families, and society as a whole.

Did you know?


of children in Europe are victims of some form of sexual violence (Council of Europe)


of abused children never tell anyone about their experience (Council of Europe)


global reports of suspected online child sexual exploitation in 2021 (NCMEC’s CyberTipline)

What is online sexual violence against children?

The rapid technological development in recent decades has led sexual violence against children to develop into new forms, with sexual abuse and exploitation increasingly taking place in, or being facilitated by, the internet and technology. A child can become the victim of sexual violence without physical proximity to the offender, and hundreds of children can fall victim to one offender.

Online sexual violence against children can be equally as harmful as sexual violence that occurs offline. 


Crimes of sexual violence against children online may, for example, involve the offender using the internet to entice, deceive, manipulate, coerce, intimidate, extort, threaten, or otherwise cause a child to commit acts of sexual violence against themselves or another child. The offender can capture and record real-time acts or manipulate and pressure a child into sending images and/or video material of themselves to the offender. Offenders often distribute the child sexual abuse material (CSAM) they have recorded or otherwise attained. 


These crimes can take place anywhere children spend time online - placing children at risk all around the world, everyday.

Read our recent white paper on online sexual violence against children in Finland:

Girl Playing with Tablet

"Online sexual violence against children can be equally as harmful as sexual violence that occurs offline."

"In 2021, there were 29.3 million global reports of suspected child sexual abuse material."

What is child sexual abuse material (CSAM)?

Child sexual abuse material, or CSAM, (often misleadingly referred to as ‘child pornography’) includes images, videos, live-streaming, and any other material that depicts sexual violence against a child.


Offences of sexual violence against children of which there is recorded images or footage, are particularly traumatic for the child. For victims of CSAM, the mere awareness that there is a video recording or photograph of their sexual abuse, coupled with the fear of its possible spread and eternal circulation online, can have a life-long devastating impact. Any time the material is shared and distributed over the internet, the child is re-victimised and their rights and well-being are further violated (C3P Survivors Survey, 2017).


With the advancement of technology, the amount of CSAM has grown exponentially and explosively worldwide. In 2021, there were 29.3 million global reports of suspected child sexual abuse material (NCMEC’s CyberTipline). 


In the EU, a total of 23,000 reports of child sexual abuse images were reported in EU countries in 2010 and 725,000 in 2019. In 2019, the reports included approximately three million individual images and/or videos of child sexual abuse (NCMEC’s CyberTipline).


Online CSAM is a continuum of harm that slows down the recovery process of the child victim, their family and their closed ones. It is therefore crucial to use the most effective methods to remove existing CSAM from the internet. Protect Children contributes to the removal of CSAM as part of the international Project Arachnid alliance.


Prevention is key for effective child protection. We at Protect Children believe that to fully protect children from sexual violence, it is crucial to tackle the issue from all angles.

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