International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children Australia Ltd
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The Issue

“Every second, at least 2 images or videos of child sexual abuse are shared online.”

#ChildSafetyOn campaign

Online technology is facilitating and growing the sexual exploitation of children

In today’s digital age, the internet has become a breeding ground for one of the most heinous crimes: the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Offenders, lurking across all corners of the web, engage in activities that target and harm the lives of our most vulnerable.

At ICMEC Australia, our mission is to shine a light into the shadow of this crime, partnering with stakeholders across industries to dismantle these networks of harm and protect our children.

Awareness is our first line of defence. By understanding the reality of these crimes, we can initiate more conversations, spread awareness, and garner the support that’s needed to defend children’s safety. 

What are we dealing with?

The World Health Organization defines this crime as

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE): Any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of a child. 

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA): Any sexual act or threat, by force or manipulation, violating a child’s body and dignity. 

In the realm of the internet, these definitions take on a digital dimension. Children are not just at risk in physical spaces but also online, where abuse and exploitation can occur through the sharing of explicit content, manipulative conversations, or live-streamed exploitation – all facilitated by technology we use in our day-to-day lives.

The spectrum of child sexual abuse and exploitation facilitated online

The sexual abuse and exploitation of children, facilitated online, includes a range of offences, which include: 

  • AI-generated CSAM: The use of AI to generate CSAM that looks like it involves real children (or based on images, audio or other depictions of real children). 
  • Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM): Material that shows or describes child sexual abuse. Under Australian Commonwealth legislation, it is an offence to possess, produce, supply or obtain such material. 
  • Image-based abuse: Non-consensual sharing of intimate images, nude or sexual images, or a threat to share the content is made. 
  • Live Streaming of Abuse: Real-time broadcasting of the exploitation and abuse of children. 
  • Online Grooming: When an adult makes online contact with someone under the age of 16 with the intention of establishing a relationship to enable sexual abuse. 
  • Self-Generated CSAM: Sexual images that are taken by a person of themselves where the person is under the age of 18. 
  • Sexual Extortion (Sextortion): Online blackmail where a perpetrator threatens to reveal explicit images of a person unless they give in to their demands, which are sometimes for financial gain. 
  • Travelling to Offend: An expressed desire or intent either to travel to another location to sexually abuse a child, or to arrange for the victim to travel to meet the offender with the same intent.  
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The alarming reality

The statistics are more than just numbers—every number is a life harmed.  

For more extensive information and data on online child sexual exploitation and abuse in Australia, please refer to the ACCCE and the eSafety Commissioner.

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