#WeProtect Children Online

11 Dec 2014 UK SIC

On 10-11 December 2014, representatives from over 50 countries meet in London for the #WeProtect global summit to discuss how to end online child sexual exploitation and agree a coordinated global response.

UK Safer Internet Centre partners, the Internet Watch Foundation have played a key role in the summit. In April the IWF was given a new remit to search proactively for criminal content, and this has resulted in 109% increase from last year in the removal of URLs assessed as child sexual abuse.

Susie Hargreaves, Chief Executive of the IWF, said: “The IWF is proud to be an active participant in the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Global Summit.  As one of the world’s leading hotlines, funded by the internet industry to remove online child sexual abuse imagery and videos, we are committed to working with partners across the world to achieve our mission of eliminating online child sexual abuse.

“The IWF is acutely aware that regardless of how successful we are at removing content hosted in the UK, this is a global problem which requires every country to stand up and play an active role. By working together across the world we will move one step closer to eradicating this heinous crime.

“This is important because every single image or video is of a real child being sexually abused and every time someone views that image or video that child is re-victimised.

“We applaud the Prime Minister in taking the lead in this matter by bringing so many key stakeholders together from across the world to agree an international approach to the problem.”

New laws to protect children from online grooming

The summit has also announced new laws to tackle child sexual exploitation online. A new offence has been introduced to prevent adults from sending sexual communications to a child, including sending a sexual message or soliciting sexual images. It follows a campaign by the NSPCC to close this ‘flaw in the law’.

The Prime Minister also announced that it would also be made illegal to possess content offering guidance on abusing children – what he called “paedophile training manuals”.

Will Gardner, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, and CEO of Childnet, said: “We support this government initiative to help ensure the law offers fuller protection for children and young people online, and that police have the power to act. Technology is a fast moving area, and inevitably, the abuse of technology is also evolving. It is important that legal protections are kept up to speed.”

“However, the law can only be a part of the solution and there is a clear role for others, including parents, carers, educators, and industry. We need to make sure that children are equipped to deal with requests for sexual images and know where to turn and who they can tell.”  

Tips for parents, carers and educators

  • Tell someone: Talk to children about what to do if someone sends them a sexual message or makes them feel uncomfortable – they need to know they can turn to you, and that it can be reported to the police.
  • Report it: If you have concerns that your child has received sexual communications from an adult, report to your local police or to CEOP.
  • Think before you post: It’s important to talk to your child about online privacy, and what type of content they share and with who. Once any image has been sent, it is then out of your control. 

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