New legislation could put EU on the world map by holding big tech accountable for the dissemination of child sexual abuse materials.

On the European Day for Victims of Crime we are proud to launch the Right In Front of Us (#ChildSafetyOn) campaign in partnership with 13 organisations dedicated to protecting children’s safety and rights online. We want children to feel safe at school, but who is ensuring that they are also safe online? Research shows that an average school classroom of 20 children may have as many as 13 children who have experienced a form of online sexual harm. 

But a solution to online sexual abuse is right in front of us. A new law is being considered by the EU that would help stop online child sexual abuse. This law would require the EU to create a legal obligation the big technology companies and internet service providers, to identify, remove, and report any child sexual abuse material on their platforms. Crucially, those companies will also be held accountable for failing to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse. We are working with teachers and educators across Europe to help mobilise their voice in making children safe away from the classroom. 

“Missing Children Europe’s network of hotlines is concerned about grooming being an increasing factor in disappearances of children.  The proposed EU regulation is necessary and urgent to prevent and combat child sexual exploitation, such as grooming.”

 ­Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, President of Missing Children Europe

“While the line between children’s online and offline interactions is increasingly blurred, the impact of sexual abuse crosses all boundaries. Schools provide a vital space for prevention through dialogue with children, for recognising signs of abuse, and for providing a supportive environment in which children can seek help. Empowering educators means empowering children.”  

Amy Crocker, Head of Child Protection and Technology at ECPAT International

“Today is a hugely important day for those who have been victims and survivors of some of the most heinous crimes imaginable. On a daily basis our analysts here at the IWF see children grow up in the images of their abuse online and we are fully supportive of efforts to raise awareness of this abhorrent crime. We stand with the victims of these crimes today, and every day, in ensuring the response remains a political and social priority. We want to encourage members of the public to add their voice and support to the public campaign launched by the Justice Initiative today and follow the lead of those politicians who have assembled in Paris today in support of their calls. At IWF we have always worked to raise awareness of the issue of child sexual abuse in the UK, by highlighting the scale and nature of the threat posed by offenders and predators and now we want to further that in Europe. We would encourage teachers to use the resources made available today to highlight the online dangers, to start a conversation in their staff room and amongst their peers.”

Susie Hargreaves OBE, CEO of IWF

“The End Violence Partnership’s Safe Online initiative is at the forefront of global efforts to create a safer digital world for children. Our investments and research in more than 75 countries show that we need strong and coordinated action across governments and industry to address the largely invisible epidemic of online CSEA. The EU legislative proposal sets a clear framework for action and has the potential to make an impact far beyond the EU borders”. 

Dr. Howard Taylor, Executive Director of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children

The legislation would be the first of its kind, providing a template for a global response to an issue that is growing at an alarming rate. Children are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and violence than at any other time, and the EU has become a hub for this kind of activity. 
With the #ChildSafetyOn campaign, 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 Helpine International and Eurochild aim to raise awareness of the pressing need to protect children online and support the European Commission proposal to both prevent and combat child sexual abuse online. 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 campaign includes a petition launched by the Justice Initiative, a survivor focused NGO, a hero video, website, and social media content. The website and social media content is available in EN, FR, IT, ES, DE & NL.

 1These findings come from a global study surveying more than 5,000 18-20 year olds in 54 countries worldwide, to understand more about their experiences of online sexual harms. WeProtect Global Alliance & Economist Impact. The survey refers to the average number of students per primary level class in selected European countries in 2019. Statista.