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European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse

© Photo by Zev Hoover

All of us – parents, teachers, communities, governments, – must ensure that technology and new media help children to explore, learn and develop, and not to fall prey to sexual exploitation and abuse.

Thorbjørn Jagland - November 2017
Secretary General of the Council of Europe


Children are going online more, at a younger age, and in more diverse ways. Social media and messaging can bring children in contact with sexual offenders.

Sex threats to your children on the web - facts you should know:

43% had contact online with strangers

20% of 14-16s received sexual images

14% met online contact offline

11% sent their photo/video to strangers

Source: EU Kids Online Survey 2014

Blackmail with a child’s own pictures

…Sextortion is a mix of sexual coercion and extortion. A perpetrator will blackmail a child with the help of self-generated images of that child in order to extort sexual favours, money, or other benefits from the child. The perpetrator will threaten to post the images on social media or to send them to the child’s family and friends. 

You film it, you send it, you lose it

Sexting is the sending and receiving of sexually explicit messages, (words, photos, videos, images, etc.) usually via mobile phone. Once a child posts or sends an image of themselves, they lose control of it forever.


14-18 year olds:

1 in 3 have sexting experience

Sex threats to your children on the web


did it to get noticed


did it through stupidity


did it to attract the attention of a person they liked


were forced to do it

Source: Pan-European Insafe Youth Panel Survey (2011)

First step to child grooming?


If adults sex chat with children, it can be the first step towards child grooming, the creation of child pornography and sexual coercion. 

Why do children trust online friends?

Online sexual abuse, even if it does not lead to a physical meeting, can be very traumatic for the child. The Council of Europe special opinion on “online grooming” offers guidance to states looking to go one step further in the criminalisation of online grooming under national law.

Online grooming is building a relationship with a child to facilitate online or offline sexual contact. […] Unfortunately, children, who may be cautious in the real world, may be more trusting of an online friend. 


Post-breakup nasty stories can make your child’s life hell

Germany, France, Malta and the UK have adopted laws against non-consensual sharing of images in an attempt to fight against revenge porn.


Revenge porn is where self-generated intimate or sexually explicit images and materials are shared within a relationship and then, once the relationship has ended, they are shared with others, without the consent of the featured person. 

revenge porn incidents reported in the UK in 2015
involved youngsters aged under 19.

Children online are vulnerable to sexual abuse – As a parent, how can I help prevent it?

of the parents whose children have seen sexual images online claim their child hasn’t.
of the parents whose children have received nasty or hurtful messages online claim their child hasn’t.
of the parents whose children have received sexual messages claim their child hasn’t.
of the parents whose children have met offline with an online contact claim their child hasn't.

... As parents and carers, we face new challenges and issues on a regular basis as our children and young people become more adept at using the Internet, technology and social media. 


Talk to your children about who they are talking to online, what they are doing online, where they are going online and when they are going online.
Keep the dialogue open – even when the subject may be uncomfortable for you – as it is the best way to stay informed about your child’s online activities.
Alongside the “safe sex” talks with your children, consider having a “safe tech” and a “safe content” internet talk, and explain the inappropriateness and risks of sexy or extremist photos, talk or messages. 


SMART rules for young children:


Keep safe by being careful not to give out personal information.


someone you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous.


e-mails, IM or instant messages or opening files from people you don’t know or trust can be dangerous.


someone online may be lying about who they are.


your parent, carer or a trusted adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried.

Source: Childnet

Governments must prevent, protect, prosecute!

Mapping out the Lanzarote Convention


The Lanzarote Convention obliges countries to criminalise all kinds of sexual offences against children through specific legislation, and requires them to take measures to prevent sexual violence, to protect child victims and to prosecute perpetrators.  

Sexual offences facilitated by information and communication technologies must be criminalised, too.

Of 47 member States of the Council of Europe, 42 have ratified the Lanzarote Convention. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ireland, Norway, and the United Kingdom have signed, but not ratified the convention. The Convention is also open to non-member States. 

Protecting children against criminal exploitation of self-generated images: what is being done?

A new monitoring round to see how European states protect children against the criminal exploitation of child self-generated images, in particularly sexually explicit images and videos, was launched in May 2017. The replies by all 42 States Parties and the input from civil society will be examined in detail in 2018.

(18 November)

The European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse was created to raise awareness of sexual violence against children and promote the protection of their rights. It’s an occasion to foster public debate around this sensitive topic, to assist victims, to end their stigmatisation, and to promote the Lanzarote Convention

The well-being of children is paramount for all of us. They are our future. It is up to us to keep them safe in every way we can.

Stella Kyriakides - November 2017
President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

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