We must make the internet a safe place for children
With over 70 civil society and child rights organisations, Eurochild is calling on all stakeholders to strengthen the Commission’s proposal and ensure it brings tangible outcomes for child protection online.
Every child should have the chance to be safe, curious, and happy – to simply be a kid. Unfortunately, the reality of childhood is very different for a growing number of children who experience sexual abuse and exploitation. Recent surveys show than more than half of children, both boys and girls, experience sexual harms online during childhood.
The horrors of abuse are cruel enough. But as the internet has evolved and grown, so has the viral spread of child sexual abuse materials, and the evidence of that abuse: 85 million of images and videos were reported globally in 2021 – with Europe hosting over 62 % of this material. This material is often re-shared multiple times online, with children being re-victimised over and over.
Every single day, children’s rights to protection from sexual abuse and exploitation are violated. Overwhelming as this may seem, we are far from powerless to act. And we have a moral as well as legal responsibility to stop this heinous crime, as recognised by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Today, on the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, we want to explain why this moment is so critical for Europe and the world.