Victory! The UN Establishes a World Day on Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Violence!  

Today marks an incredible global victory! The United Nations has agreed to the Global Collaborative’s call for a world day on child sexual exploitation, abuse, and violence! 

For the past three years, The Global Collaborative, of which the International Center on Sexual Exploitation (a division of NCOSE) is a member, has been urging the UN to establish November 18th as a world day for the prevention and healing child sexual exploitation, abuse and violence. 

The Global Collaborative is a survivor led network of NGO’s, faith-based institutions, survivor networks and governments that was launched in 2019 for the purpose of establishing this world day. It was founded by Harvard Researcher, Dr. Jennifer Wortham, whose brothers are survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. Dr. Wortham shared how her brothers’ abuse has continued to negatively impact them throughout their entire lives. She says, “I launched the Global Collaborative to bring hope and healing to the millions of children, and adult survivors who are suffering around the world… We adopted the 18 November to increase awareness of the actions all governments can take to prevent abuse and bring healing to survivors.”  

2022 marks the twenty year anniversary of the Boston Globe’s famous Spotlight Report, which shed light on the Catholic Church’s systemic cover-up of child sexual abuse. It is all the more à propos, therefore, that this year Dr. Wortham’s efforts to establish this World Day have come to fruition. 

Victory! The United Nations just established a world day to recognize the need for prevention and healing of child sexual exploitation, violence, and abuse. Help celebrate the new UN #Nov18WorldDay on CSEA by lighting a virtual candle here:… Click To Tweet

Today, November 7th 2022, twenty plus survivors of child sexual abuse, including several who experienced abuse by clergy, are joining celebrities and advocates in standing by H.E. Fatima Maada Bio, the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone, as she delivers an address to the UN General Assembly, formally declaring November 18th an annual “World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence.”  

NCOSE’s Dr. Marcel van der Watt at the declaration of the new World Day
Dr. Marcel van der Watt with Lynn Shaw, founder of Lynn’s Warriors

The achievement of this victory was a truly joint effort, in which many of you played a key role. Last year, on November 18th 2021, many of you participated in a Global Virtual Walk on November 18th, in order to add your voice to those calling on the UN to establish this world day. Through this powerful action, you showed the UN that people around the world wanted to take steps to end child sexual exploitation, abuse, and violence. We thank participants of the 2021 Global Virtual Walk from the bottom of our hearts for the integral role you played in bringing about this victory!  

The Global Crisis of Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Violence

As child sexual exploitation, abuse, and violence is a global crisis, it requires a global response – hence the establishment of a world day. The Global Collaborative highlights some chilling facts about the pervasiveness of the problem: 

  • Studies have found that one in five women and one in thirteen men report experiencing sexual abuse as children. At least sixty percent of child sexual abuse victims never disclose their abuse.  
  • In some parts of the world, one out of every two children have experienced sexual abuse.  
  • The World Health Organization reports 120 million girls and young women under 20 years of age who have suffered some form of forced sexual contact.  

It is important to remember that child sexual exploitation, abuse, and violence is not limited to physical contact abuse. In the age of the internet, much of this abuse happens online – for example, through child sexual abuse material (CSAM, the more apt term for “child pornography”) and online grooming. To illustrate how rampant online forms of child sexual exploitation, abuse, and violence are:  

  • CSAM accounts for over 99% of the reports of child sexual exploitation made to the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline. In 2021, this amounted to 29,309,106 CSAM reports out of a total 29,397,681 reports of child sexual exploitation.  
  • Self-generated CSAM is common, often occurring through “sexting”. A 2018 meta-analysis of 39 studies found that 14.8% of teens sent sexts, 27.4% received sexts, 12.0% forwarded sexts without the consent of the teen in the image, and 8.4% had had sexts of them forwarded without their consent.  
  • In a 2017 survey conducted by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, 67% of CSAM survivors spoke to how the distribution of their images impacted them differently than the physical contact abuse they also suffered, because the images are permanent and the distribution of them never ends.  
  • In 2021, the CyberTipline received 44,155 reports of “online enticement of children for sexual acts.”  

What the World Day on Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Violence will Accomplish

Research shows that there are evidence-informed strategies and solutions that can proactively protect children from abuse, but few of these solutions are widely adopted, due to insufficient awareness and resources dedicated to the problem of child sexual abuse. Dr. Melissa Merrick, President of ChildUSA, says, “We believe a world day will help raise the profile of this problem among key stakeholders and encourage nations to allocate more funding for research and programs to educate parents on the steps they can take to protect children.”  

The Global Collaborative explains that the aim of the new UN World Day is to achieve the following actions:  

  • Bring global visibility to the right for every child to grow up free from all forms of sexual abuse, both on-line and off-line.
  • Raise awareness of measures that can be taken by communities, schools, religious institutions, recreational venues, inter-governmental organizations, families, and young persons to ensure that every child is protected.
  • Harness the power of social media with celebrity, and high-profile survivors sharing their stories to help eliminate the stigma experienced by victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation.
  • Channel the creativity and influence of a range of partners to accelerate adoption of legislation, policies, and procedures to ensure all children are safe, and victims/survivors receive justice, and have access to the resources they need to heal.
  • Accelerate adoption of evidence-based practices by health care providers, social welfare organizations and faith communities to enabling effective healing for victims/survivors of abuse, their family members, and communities.

The following organizations are co-founders and partners of the Global Collaborative:

 A Breeze of Hope Foundation 
American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children 
Arigatou International 
Army of Survivors 
Australia eSafety Commission 
Awake 
Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs 
Bellweather International 
Candle in a Dark Room 
Child Abuse Council 
Christian Cultural Center 
Darkness to Light 
Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children
General Federation of Women’s Clubs 
End FGM/C U.S./Network 
Enough Abuse Campaign 
Human Flourishing Program, Harvard University 
Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities 
International Board of Rabbi’s 
ISPCAN 
Keep Kids Safe Coalition 
Islamic Relief 
Male Survivors 
Maria Goretti Network 
Monique Burr Foundation 
New York Board of Rabbi’s 
National Center on Sexual Exploitation 
PACE 
Prevent Child Abuse America 
RHAMA 
Roads of Success 
Sacred Spaces 
Shine on Sierra Leone 
Survivor Network for Those Abused by Priests 
The Catholic Project 
The New York Foundling 
Their Story is our Story 
Together for Girls 
WeProtect Global Alliance 
World Childhood Foundation, USA 
World Council of Churches 
World Vision 
YMCA USA 

The Numbers

300+

NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.

100+

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.

93

NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.

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