April 6, 2020

STATEMENT – More Children Likely to be Abused During Child Abuse Prevention Month, Warns NCOSE

Washington, DC (April 6, 2020) – In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation is warning about the increasing reports of child sexual abuse and exploitation, in part because of children’s increased time spent online due to quarantine, and encouraging parents and legislators to take protective action against these existing threats. The FBI recently issued a warning about the increased risk of child exploitation online.

“As children spend more time on the Internet due to the coronavirus pandemic, they are more vulnerable to grooming for sexual abuse, pornography production, or sex trafficking by online sexual predators,” said Dawn Hawkins, senior vice president and executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “Tragically, we know that anywhere children flock, exploiters flock also, whether on social media, gaming chat rooms, and video calling platforms. During this season of unique online vulnerability, child abuse prevention rests in the hands of parents and legislators alike—both have an important role to play.”

Parents should talk with children about those who they interact with and trust online, and take measures to ensure kids are empowered to make safe choices online. Grooming online doesn’t always look like child sexual abuse to begin with—it can often be disguised as ‘friendly.’ To children, this can seem harmless. Internet and technology safety should be an ongoing conversation in every household.

“Legislators must recognize the real role that social media and technology play in the increasing occurrences of child sexual abuse. That is why we are encouraging Congress to pass the EARN IT Act, so that technology companies are held accountable to proactively work to protect children.

“We will continue to see increases in children suffering abuse until policies and protections equal and exceed predatory actions and behaviors,” Hawkins concluded.

Learn more about the NCOSE’s Project “Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation”

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