Session A: Vulnerability and online sexual victimisation

Wednesday 23 May, 15.50 - 17.30

Moderator: Kuno Sörensen, Save the Children Denmark and ROBERT

Kelly Alleyne
Helen Whittle
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, UK

Online abuse: A victim's perspective [PDF]


This presentation will explore internet abuse from a victim’s perspective; specifically young people who are abused as part of child abuse images online and young people who are groomed online. 

Firstly, image offences will be discussed. Using case examples from research and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre’s Victim Identification suite, the offence and the impact on the child will be explored. The presentation will highlight issues surrounding the impact that technology can have on this form of abuse and the consequences of this on victim recovery. 

Secondly, online grooming will be discussed from the perspective of the victim. Early findings from CEOP research into vulnerabilities of child victims of online grooming will be outlined, including themes that are arising from qualitative interviews with young victims. Examples will be given of the victim’s comments regarding their experience of law enforcement and the professionals who handled the case following the report. Additionally, victim’s suggestions regarding preventative education will be addressed. The presenters will give detail how this research will progress and implications for professionals working in this area.

Helene Almind Jansen

MA Psychology, Clinical psychologist,
Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet
Centre for Sexually Abused Children (CSO)

Identifying vulnerable children online by developing an evidence based model


New possibilities of interaction between people in networks and chatrooms, offered by ICT – Information and Communications Technologies have enabled new forms of child sexual abuse. The question is whether ICT-related sexual abuse of children differs from non ICT-related sexual abuse.

Differences and similarities between cases of children exposed to ICT-related sexual abuse and cases of non-ICT related sexual abuse?

Characteristics of 28 children aged 11-15 exposed to ICT-related sexual abuse were compaired to characteristics of children at the same age exposed to non ICT-related sexual abuse referred to treatment in same period of time.

In 75% of the cases of ICT-related sexual abuse the abuse has been disclosed by and referred from the police. In comparison 47% of the non ICT-related sexually abused children are referred from the police. The risk of the abuse involving penetration is 2.7 times higher if the abuse is ICT-related.
70% of the ICT-related abused children and 45% of the non-ICT related abused children come from families not known by the social authorities before the abuse. After ICT-related sexual abuse the psychological treatment period is significantly longer.

The study indicates that cases of ICT-related sexual abuse differ from other cases of sexual abuse of children in various ways. One interpretation could be, that children exposed to ICT-related sexual abuse to a greater extend feel responsible for the abuse because of their curious involvement in the interaction on the internet. Furthermore, the ICT-related abused children more often come from well functioning families. The result calls for treatment programs taking these differences into account in order to promote sufficient recovery.


Christian Bahls
MOGiS e.V. - Eine Stimme der Vernunft

Child sexual abuse and psychological Impairment in victims – results of an online-study initiated by victims [PDF]


Starting in 2008 with the 3rd World Congress Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children & Adolescents the debate about prevention and intervention of sexual abuse started to get more media coverage. Especially with the uncovering of abuse cases in catholic schools in 2010 the debate about sexual abuse and its consequences become a hot topic in Germany.

Scientific studies regarding the perpetrators have been conducted in various ways during recent years. What seems to be lacking from the research of child sexual abuse is the victims' perspective. Victims rarely are the initiators of such research. This could be the reason why certain aspects of this topic have not been covered adequately. Also it sends the wrong signals to Survivors, if they only seem to be objects rather than subject of the research. It sends the Impression they have to stay passive and that the discussion is about them, rather than with them.

To take in active part in that discussion the German association MOGiS e.V. (Victims of sexual child abuse against Internet blocking) decided to conduct their own study in 2009. Using their standing within the German Internet Community and social media like Twitter as well as their connection to other support groups to recruit probands it did a survey with more than 500 people including more than 50% of people directly affected by sexual child abuse.

The structured self reports from the online questionnaire includes the relationship the victim had with the abuser(s), the seriousness and kind of the abuse and what negative effects the abuse has on the life quality of survivors. Especially the answers to the questions about useful resources and resilience factors show that survivors should be given a more prominent role in preventing sexual abuse and alleviate the consequences.

Jasmina Byrne

Child Protection Specialist
UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre

Lely Djuhari
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Digital citizenship and safety: maximising opportunities and minimising risks [PDF]

UNICEF has recently completed significant studies on children’s behavior online, the risks they face and strategies to address these emerging issues. These studies range from a global overview (Child Safety Online: Rethinking Strategies and National Responses) to country-specific reviews (South Africa, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine). Currently, UNICEF office of Research is conducting a study on cyberbullying and bullying.

Child Safety Online provides a thorough insight of sexual abuse and exploitation of children online examining policy and programme responses; the private sector`s role and the challenges and opportunities for law enforcement. Strategies for effective action were drawn from several countries from both the North and South. The study highlights the importance the benefits of the Internet Communications Technology (ICT) including mobile technology for children; the role of children as agents of their own safety. A key message is building safer access should be integral to any national plans to enhance Internet access, and child protection services should understand how to address online abuse and exploitation of children.

Linked to this global research initiative and Digital Citizenship and Safety Project, UNICEF Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States carried out three exploratory studies in Turkey, Ukraine and Russia on access and behavior of young people online. The studies provided to be effective vehicles to raise awareness among the public and initiate a dialogue with policy makers on how to maximizing on ICTs opportunities while minimizing its risks.

All three studies are based on reliable Turkish, Russian, Ukrainian and international research which have been validated by national academics, government and industry representatives at UNICEF-supported workshops in Moscow, Kiev and Ankara. Researchers have further identified a need to generate primary data among vulnerable children including most at risk adolescence in Ukraine who live and work on the streets. Turkey has held a national children and parliamentary consultations with a view to further work on integrating children online abuse and exploitation through child protection systems.

Based on the findings of the above mentioned studies, UNICEF will begin developing global policy and programme guidance in support of our work in 150 countries. The UNICEF presentation will thus focus on a) some of the key findings from the research conducted by UNICEF and b) lessons learned in relation to the research process, child participation, advocacy as well as policy and programme implications i.e. how to translate the research results into action.