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April 7, 2020

You Can Make a Difference During Child Abuse Prevention Month

Have you heard the devastating fact that 1 in 10 children will experience child sexual abuse by the time they reach 18 years of age?

In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation holds hope that parents and legislators alike will come together to protect children online. We have the power to intervene in real time and prevent child sexual abuse (CSA).

The scourge of child sexual abuse is no longer constrained by colocation as, increasingly, cases of CSA facilitated by social media apps and technology are cropping up around the world. To help keep children safe from this abuse, it’s important to be aware of and sensitive to the following:

Predatory Grooming

How does it happen? Facilitated through online forums, social media apps, and technology—anywhere a stranger can “approach”, or directly message, a child.

What happens? An adult forms an emotional bond with a minor in order to gain leverage and eventually solicit nude images or a meeting in person. These images and meetings lead to trafficking and abuse situations.

Where does it happen? This most commonly happens on some of the most popular apps for children, including Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Why does it matter? Grooming doesn’t always look like CSA at first. Grooming is disguised as “friendly” advances a perpetrator makes to “just get to know” a child. To children, this can seem harmless, and perhaps they might even welcome the attention of someone they don’t know.

How can parents intervene? Talk with children about those who they interact with and trust online. Here are five things parents can do to ensure kids are safe online. We recommend starting a conversation and allowing it to be ongoing in your household.

Exposure to Pornographic Images

In addition to it being easy for children to stumble across or access hardcore pornography on websites such as Pornhub, not all apps are rated appropriately and can become sources of unwitting exposure for kids. Many major platforms still struggle to find ways to eliminate the wildfire-like spread of pornographic images and children are left vulnerable to exposure. We need to Fix App Ratings but, in the meantime, here are five Internet filtering services that can help you protect your children.

Child-on-Child Harmful Sexual Behavior

Children are taught unhealthy and inappropriate ways to maintain relationships by the media. Children may inadvertently exploit other children, unaware of the harms they are causing. Harassment and pressure to solicit nude images, then later extorting or blackmailing to continue exchanges are becoming too common among children of the rising generation.

The technology-obsessed world we live in matters! Parents, educators, child service workers, and legislators need to be aware of the potential dangers and effects social media and technology can have, and how it plays a huge part in many child sexual abuse cases.

We know what is happening and now the question we face is: What will we do in order to prevent it?

We have created a whole host of Actions that you can take to make a difference–all from the comfort of your own home! You can email Instagram and Snapchat Executives directly and you can also send an email to your elected officials about prioritizing and supporting the #FixAppRatings bill and the EARN It Act.

Other Child Abuse Prevention Month resources:

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Aubrey Pound

Communications Specialist

Aubrey Pound is a communications specialist at NCOSE and helps the organization broadcast its message and mission on a national and international scale. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Public Health with a minor in Family Life from Brigham Young University. Her overarching goal in life is to do good in any way possible. Aubrey is passionate about protecting vulnerable populations, especially women and children, by bringing visibility to the struggles they unequally face in areas such as sexual exploitation. She hopes to pursue a graduate degree in the future.

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