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  • Protect Children

Every Second Counts: European-wide petition demands the EU to tackle child abuse on the internet

Updated: Mar 26

PRESS RELEASE 01.06.2023

On International Children’s Day and International Day of the Parent survivors of child sexual abuse, child protection activists and celebrities come together from every country in Europe to launch Every Second Counts a campaign that demands the EU puts an end to child online sexual violence. The campaign aims to collect a hundred thousand signatures during the campaign. The petition will be presented to the EU in September.

On International Children’s Day and the United Nations International Day of the Parent, a coalition of child abuse survivor groups, child protection organisations and parents' associations are coming together to demand the EU leaders to protect children from online sexual harm. Recent data published by the Internet Watch Foundation about the extent of this crime against children of all ages has greatly increased year on year. More images and videos involving the most heinous sexual abuse were found online in 2022 than ever before. Sickeningly over 80% of URLs containing sexual abuse of children aged 0-2 contained this category of material. They also found that commercial pages exploiting sexual abuse of children have doubled since 2020. As in previous years, the majority of global reports of child sexual abuse material is hosted in an EU Member State.

The coalition is launching a campaign that brings voices and experiences of survivors, safeguarders and supporters calling on citizens of Europe to sign a petition that demands law makers to pass the European Commission’s proposal to prevent and combat child sexual abuse. The campaign, Every Second Counts, stems from the notion that every 2 seconds an image of a child being sexually abused is shared online.

The legislation, if passed, would be the first of its kind at this scale, providing a template for a global response to an issue that is growing at an alarming rate.

The petition was launched by the Justice Initiative, a collection of 150 survivor focused organisations from across 13 European countries. Protect Children leads the initiative's work in the Nordic countries. The petition is also supported by the Child Safety On campaign a coalition of child protection organisations including Missing Children Europe, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, ECPAT International, Brave Movement, Canadian Centre for Child Protection, Internet Watch Foundation, NSPCC, End Violence Against Children, Thorn, 5 Rights Foundation, Terre des Hommes, Child Helpline International and Eurochild.

Children are spending more and more time online through all manner of devices and platforms; the proposal looks to protect children wherever they are so they can live, learn, and thrive in their digital worlds without the threat of online child sexual abuse.

The time to act is now. Every second counts.


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