Interpol Report Highlights the Impact of COVID-19 on Child Sexual Abuse

INTERPOL is the International Criminal Police Organization and we are an inter-governmental organization. INTERPOL has 194 member countries, and helps police in all of them to work together to make the world a safer place. Today’s crimes are increasingly international. It is crucial that there is coordination among all the different players in maintaining a global security architecture.

https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2020/INTERPOL-report-highlights-impact-of-COVID-19-on-child-sexual-abuse

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Behaviour of both offenders and victims affected by measures to contain the pandemic.

September 2020 - LYON, France – Under-reporting of child sexual abuse and increased sharing of child exploitation material through peer-to-peer networks are among the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic according to an INTERPOL assessment.

The report highlights the trends and threats in the current context compared to pre-pandemic measures, what impact these are having in the short-term, and what changes are likely to happen as COVID-19 restrictions are changed.

"What the report shows is that we are seeing just the tip of a growing iceberg in terms of online child exploitation material." Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General

“It is important to remember that each photo and video of child sexual abuse is evidence of a real crime involving real children. Each time an image is viewed those children are re-victimized and their very real suffering is prolonged even further.”

“We must do more to make sure that the officers investigating these horrific crimes have the support they need, which is where cooperation through INTERPOL plays a vital role in fighting this transnational crime,” added the INTERPOL Chief.

Key environmental, social and economic factor changes due to COVID-19 which have impacted child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) across the world include:

With this increase in obstacles for victims to report offences or access support, there are concerns that some offending may never be reported after a substantial delay.

Forums on the Darknet

Other findings include increased discussions on CSEA forums on the Darknet. Sex offenders with the technical expertise to administrate forums have had more time to create new ones, whilst users have benefitted from additional time online to organize their CSEA collections.

Live-streaming of child sexual exploitation for payment has seen an increase in recent years, with demand likely to further increase due to travel restrictions. The supply of live-streamed CSEA material is also likely to rise as victims may be locked down with facilitators, and economic hardship increases.

In areas severely affected by COVID-19, situations where parents are hospitalized and children are placed under others’ care or are uncared for, are also likely to increase the risk of abuse.

An increase in self-generated material distributed on the clear net is also highlighted in the report.

Delayed reporting of abuse

The COVID-19 impact on policing includes:

Recommendations for law enforcement to address the additional threats presented by the COVID-19 pandemic include:

Source: WUNRN – 20.10.2020