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VGT: REPORTS OF CHILD EXPLOITATION MATERIAL CONTINUE TO INCREASE

Members of the Virtual Global Taskforce, along with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the United States of America, have confirmed that reports of online child sexual exploitation material continue to increase across borders, driven by a demand for such material, and an increase in reporting by internet and electronic service providers.

 

NCMEC received more than 8.2 million reports in 2016 and by March 2017, NCMEC had already received over 2.3 million CyberTipline report.[1]

 

In 2016, Australia received more than 8000 reports of child exploitation material—a figure greater than the number of the reports received from 2013 to 2015. Other VGT countries have also recorded significant increases in the volume of materials received:

 

The Netherlands has seen an increase from 5000 in 2015 to 11.000 in 2016. The number is expected to keep growing to about 20.000 in 2017.

 

Canada’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre (NCECC) of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, has also seen a 350% increase in reports from 2011 to 2016 (i.e. 6,072 to 27,300 annually).

 

The increase in amount of reports is also seen by Europol, who processes NCMEC reports and disseminates them to 18 countries in the EU. According to the statistics covering period January – July in 2015 – 2017, there were 16304 reports disseminated in 2015, 17657 in 2016 and 22996 in 2017.

 

There are more than 3.7 billion internet users worldwide[2], and at any given time, more than 750,000 active child sex offenders [3] targeting children.

 

Every nine minutes a webpage shows a child being sexually abused.[4] In 2009, it was estimated that more than 200 new images of child exploitation were circulated daily.[5]

 

In Australia, a total of 6 million images depicting the sexual exploitation of children are held in the Australian National Victim Image Library.

 

The volume of industry referrals received by the UK’s National Crime Agency in the UK was over 74,000 in the year ending March 2017, an increase of nearly 230%.

 

The UAE- Ministry of Interior has also put forth efforts in increasing different channels for reporting. For example, a mobile application is currently being developed where crimes against children can be reported directly to the authorities.

 

Figures from the Internet Watch Foundation also show that reports of child sexual abuse imagery rose by 417 per cent between 2013 and 2015.
Disturbingly, the victims depicted in child exploitation material are getting younger, and the violence more extreme. Law enforcement is seeing children as young as days old being sexually exploited, some babies and toddlers ‘produced’ for the purposes of such abuse. [6]

 

Along with alarming societal demand for such material, technological advances, including anonymising programs such as The Onion Router (TOR), peer-to-peer networking technology, and the capacity for increased online file storage and sharing, has facilitated the widespread sharing and storing of this harmful material.

Other efforts of VGT members include the opening of INTERPOL Crimes Against Children offices in Bangkok, Singapore and Buenos Aires with the aim to enhance the level of commitment during the member countries to better tackle the crime against children.

The VGT is also aware of the impacts on police personnel specializing in investigations of online child sexual exploitation. The VGT continues to prioritize the health and wellness of police personnel internationally through its support of research in this area.  Over 550 personnel from over 30 countries participated in the VGT international research survey on health and wellness in early 2017.  Findings from this survey are being reviewed at this time to identify ways in which the impacts of working in this area of specialization can be mitigated.

In addition, INTERPOL hosts the Child Sexual Exploitation database (ICSE) which 50 member countries and Europol that are connected to. It shows an increasing amount of identified children throughout the world, but the level of usage and new connecting member countries needs to further increase. There is, of course, a strong link between actively working on victim identification and victims being identified.

 

The VGT Board of Management will next meet in November to address the issue of rising reports worldwide and work actively together with industry and other partners to prevent the spread of child abuse material and save children from victimization.

 

[1] http://docs.house.gov/meetings/JU/JU08/20170316/105712/HHRG-115-JU08-Wstate-ShehenJ-20170316.pdf.

[2]http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm as at 31 March 2017.

[3] United Nations UNICEF Report, 2009

[4] Internet Watch Foundation Annual Report 2016 p2

[5]United Nations UNICEF Report, 2009 (http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/sexonnet.html)

[6] 2015 NetClean Report Eleven unbelievable truths https://www.netclean.com/the-netclean-report-2015/

If you know about a child who is in immediate danger or risk, call your local emergency number or police. Click the Report Abuse button to report online child sexual exploitation to your local police.