Combating Child Pornography

combating child pornography Save the Children organization sounds the alarm on the risks children are currently exposed to while using the Internet

Last year the organization launched a study, which revealed worrying aspects first related to the time children are spending online. George Roman, programme director with the aforementioned organization has more on this issue.

George Roman: "It was a surprise to us as well since we didn't expect to find out that during weekdays, children are spending between 4 and 6 hours online on an average. They spend more time at weekends when they also watch TV programmes. We've noticed that these children may develop mental issues, such as forms of depression, anxiety, and are also displeased to have social relations. The study reveals the fact that one out of two children have been victims of cyber-bullying and that 6 out of 10 have been exposed to inappropriate content. We don't know how this situation is going to improve in the future but what we know is that we can raise the awareness of these children and make them realize they need assistance from adults."

Save the Children organization also has a hotline where illegal online content can be reported at esc_ABUZ within a project entitled 'Internet Hours'. Statistics show that illegal materials reported here are on the rise. Out of the 2713 cases reported last year, 1600 involved materials depicting sexually-abused children, most of the victims being girls under 10 years old. Teodora Stoica, project manager with the Save the Children Organisation explains how these materials have proliferated in Romania in the past year.

Teodora Stoica:  According to the latest study conducted by our organization, 4 out of 10 children with ages between 12 and 17 years have been exposed to sexually explicit content. Moreover, 20% of them say they have been requested to send images or videos with their intimate body parts. Cyber-bullying, which is one of the way through which these pictures or videos are being obtained, has largely contributed to the proliferation of these materials online. And technological progress makes possible the appearance of new types of cyber-crimes, being easier than ever for an offender to get in touch with children nowadays. One of the most serious challenges facing the online environment is to prevent the sexploitation of children...According to INHOPE, Romania is ranking 7th on a EU list of countries where suchlike inappropriate content is posted and from the reports received, we've noticed that although most sex abusers are men, the number of materials in which women are abusing children is also on the rise."

The esc-Abuz hotline has been functioning in cooperation with the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police being also part of INHOPE, an international network of organizations and institutions fighting this scourge.

In this way, online materials, which are harmful for children, are being sent to the Romanian Police, where they are investigated and erased from the Internet, while offenders are identified and prosecuted.

According to Elena Savu, head of the Bureau for the Investigation of Child Pornography Online, 398 criminal files related to child pornography were reported in Romania last year, and 277 of these were solved. 168 sting operations were conducted and 261 home-search operations were carried out; 296 people were placed under investigation and over 20 million photo-video files were analyzed. Elena Savu says that live-streaming videos of child sexual abuse is the latest tendency in this phenomenon.

Elena Savu: "The most sensitive cases, which unfortunately are on the rise in Romania as well, are these cases of live streaming. They involve women who used to perform in video-chats. They decided to make their children participate in these shows for various sums of money and are currently use various apps to broadcast these videos live."

Since 2010, Save the Children has been running a project entitled 'Internet Hours", which is promoting a safer use of the Internet and new online technologies by children. The project has brought together a network of volunteers, teachers and experts who are working with children with a view to implementing a series of educational programmes nation wise. Here is Georgiana Rosculet, coordinator of educational programmes with the aforementioned organization.

Georgiana Rosculet: The specific themes we are approaching this year are cyberbullying and Internet Addiction. This programme of volunteering is mainly addressing teachers who are willing to talk with children about these phenomena. They can apply for information materials and video packages, guidelines for a better understanding of these phenomena and then they can opt for various lesson plans that we have suggested. As part of the 'Internet Hours' we have a hotline for children, so they can call in whenever they are curious about various aspects of Internet surfing or may find themselves in delicate situations. Half million children have benefited from this project in the past 10 years. We have about 4,000 volunteers, teachers in 800 cities and we have so far cooperated with 28 hundred education centers. We are going to carry out a certified programme for teachers, a training programme, which is going to be implemented in 41 counties."

Experts with the Save the Children organization have cautioned that all over the world, authorities have become more relaxed regarding this phenomenon, and that relaxation makes the number of those involved in activities, like buying, storing or trading child pornography, to be on the rise. 

(translated by bill)



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Publicat: 2020-03-04 13:00:00
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