News

Child Sexual Exploitation: A Global Problem in Need of Local Solutions - A SOCEX Thought Piece

We see reports concerning all kinds of sexual abuse of children, but the vast majority are for child sexual abuse images and videos. While we continue to see children sold for sex in the real world – on the streets, in casinos and at truck stops – most child sex trafficking today is facilitated online.

John F. Clark, president and CEO, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

For 20 years, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) has operated the CyberTipline. During that time, we have received more than 29 million reports of child sexual exploitation from all over the world – more than half of those in just the last two years.

We see reports concerning all kinds of sexual abuse of children, but the vast majority are for child sexual abuse images and videos. While we continue to see children sold for sex in the real world – on the streets, in casinos and at truck stops – most child sex trafficking today is facilitated online.

Child sexual exploitation is a global problem. It’s vital that we have a unified and collaborative approach to stop this from happening to children here and around the world. We can fight back with new technology, new collaborations and new laws.

Technology allows us to keep pace with the flood of tips to the CyberTipline, including 78,000 from the UK last year alone. Our corporate partners – leaders in the industry like Google, Facebook, Palantir, Microsoft and Intel – have been invaluable, helping reduce the proliferation of child sexual abuse images online and developing ways to prevent future victimization.

We recently partnered with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which has developed an exciting new tool to detect and remove child sex abuse images on the internet. This reduces further harm and embarrassment to the victims depicted in the images.

Laws can also be an effective tool in this fight. Legislation passed by Congress in March will ensure, for the first time, that facilitators of online child sex trafficking in the U.S. can be held liable for their crimes.

It’s vital that we work together to find solutions to this seemingly insatiable problem. If we do nothing or simply turn away from the harsh reality of the problem, those who abuse children will win and our children will lose.