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The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is Advancing Policy Solutions to Solve Child Sexual Exploitation in the Digital Age

According to recent data, by age eight 19% of 8-year-olds have their own smartphone; by 12 more than two-thirds (69%) do.[i] Sixty-three percent of 16- to 18-year-olds report that they use social media every day.[ii] Caring parents would never take their children to an XXX store, yet many social media platforms and apps expose children to shockingly explicit sexual content which is tantamount to child abuse. This kind of sexually exploitive material is the “wallpaper” of children’s lives, potentially damaging their intellectual development, warping their sexual templates, and normalizing them to sexual objectification, sexual violence, and even prostitution and sex trafficking.

This demonstrates a key point. In the digital age, child safety and wellbeing are often an afterthought behind the goals of technological advancement and profits. Corporate and governmental policies regarding social media platforms, apps and Internet-connected devices like phones and tables are systematically slow to recognize their impact on predatory access and grooming of children for sexual abuse, childhood pornography exposure, sex trafficking and traffic in child sexual abuse images and videos. To address these pressing concerns, NCOSE has developed an aggressive response to online threats to child safety.

[i] Common Sense Media, “The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teen” (2019), accessed from commonsensemedia.org/sites/default/files/uploads/research/2019-census-8-to-18-key-findings-updated.pdf (November 21, 2019).
[ii] Ibid.

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Updates

The Bitter Truth About Sugar Dating 

By Tamar Arenson In a generation of swiping right, sexting and redefined relationships, Sugar Dating has emerged as the new frontier for relationships. Described as mutually beneficial and an exercise of agency for women, Sugar Dating is marketed as relationships in which young, attractive women can meet “experienced men” who will provide everything from mentorship…

Will YouTube’s COPPA Improvements Address Pedophile Comments on Kids’ Videos?

YouTube has long been criticized by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation for its inefficient efforts to remove sexually graphic and grooming material. In 2019, NCOSE researched claims of pedophile rings, child erotica, and child exploitation on YouTube and found alarming results confirming the original reports and continued use of the platform for exploitive purposes. Learn more…

Encryption Blocked Justice for This Sex Trafficking Case, These Companies Don’t Care

Below is an excerpt from the written testimony of New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary in December 2019. The single most important criminal justice challenge in the last ten years is, in my opinion, the use of mobile devices by bad actors to…

You Can Help Congress Pass the “Fix App Ratings” Bill

It’s time to fix app ratings. The current system of hoping technology companies accurately and transparently self-“rate” their own products is broken. As a result, minors are left exposed to grooming, harassment, explicit content, and sexual abuse and exploitation at unprecedented levels. That’s where House Resolution (H.Res.) 721 comes in. Faced with the mounting crisis…

Graphic advocating for the passage of H.Res. 721 (the "Fix App Ratings" bill)

Oregon Mom Allegedly Used Snapchat to Groom and Rape a 14-Year-Old Boy

The sexual exploitation of minors is a tragic reality for far too many children in our society. In early December 2019, a 36-year-old woman was arrested in Oregon with multiple sex crime charges. The woman, Rheta Melvin, allegedly used Snapchat to message and solicit a 14-year-old boy for sex. The 14-year-old, a student at the…

Rheta Melvin, 36, was arrested for allegedly luring a 14-year-old boy through Snapchat and having sexual contact with him. (Douglas County Sheriff's Office)

Financial Times: TikTok struggles to protect teenage users from toxic videos

Excerpt from Financial Times TikTok is rushing to build teams around the world to moderate its streams of viral videos, after increasing concerns that its young users are being exposed to the same sort of toxic content that has plagued YouTube and Facebook. The Chinese-owned app, which has amassed over 1bn monthly users in just…

Blind Eyes Opened: America has a massive sex trafficking epidemic

One of the problems encountered in the movement to end sexual exploitation is the fact that many people—most people, perhaps—aren’t aware of the problem, let alone the size of the problem. Even if and when they are aware of the problem, a common assumption is that sex trafficking is a problem “somewhere else.” Blind Eyes…

Still from Blind Eyes Opened documentary film

Progress! We Met With Instagram About Their Problems With Sex Trafficking and Predatory Comments

We at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation recently met with a top executive from Instagram! This occurred in December, after three anti-sexual exploitation organizations from three different countries–the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (United States), Collective Shout (Australia), and Defend Dignity (Canada)–launched a #WakeUpInstagram campaign to call on Instagram to improve its related policies and practices. As part of this…

13yo girl was abused and exploited on Instagram in her own home. It could have been prevented.

Maria* was 13 years old when she first got Instagram on her cellphone. She had her parent’s permission because Instagram is rated as appropriate for “Ages 12+.” She loved sharing photos as well as “liking” and commenting on her friend’s images. She mostly posted about being in Girl Scouts, babysitting her younger brother, and going…

A young girl looks into a mirror shard

The Outrageous Response by Facebook’s Instagram to Our Joint #WakeUpInstagram Campaign

In response to the joint international campaign to #WakeUpInstagram— by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (United States), Collective Shout (Australia), and Defend Dignity (Canada)—a Facebook spokesperson told Fox News on November 20th that: “Any content that endangers or exploits children is unthinkable and has no place on Instagram. We have policies that prohibit this…

Wake Up Instagram campaign graphic

STATEMENT: House Resolution to Fix App Ratings Moves to Protect Kids Online

Washington, DC – A resolution was introduced today by Representatives Mike Johnson (R-LA4) and Ben McAdams (D-UT4) to recognize the need for an independent app rating review board and for user-friendly parental controls. This resolution (H. Res. 721) is endorsed by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, a non-partisan nonprofit in Washington D.C.  “Greater transparency…

STATEMENT: Instagram is “Predator’s Paradise,” Says International Group of Human Rights NGOs

Joint International Campaign Launched by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (USA), Collective Shout (AU), and Defend Dignity (CDN) Washington, DC – Today three anti-sexual exploitation organizations from three different countries—the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (United States), Collective Shout (Australia), and Defend Dignity (Canada)—launched a campaign to call out rampant sex trafficking, child sexual…

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First page of "The Links Between Pornography and Sexual Violence" research document from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation
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