Online Child Sexual Exploitation – Introduction

Topic Progress:

Child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSAE) is one of the most horrendous crimes against children and affects themin various ways.  

With technological advancements and the rise of internet users worldwide, child sex offenders are changing previous methods of contacting children and utilising the online world to gain access to their potential victims for sexual gain. This has led to a rapid surge in the prevalence of online child sexual exploitation.  

Before diving into the different concepts regarding online child sexual exploitation, let us explore the situation of CSAE in general including cases which happen in an offline setting.  

Why is this important? 

Particularly in Cambodia, there are many misconceptions regarding what is considered sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Child sexual abuse and exploitation is mostly thought of as physical sexual force on a child (such as rape) while other forms of sexual abuse are either disregarded or unthought of. This leaves many children vulnerable to harm while their abuse is being overlooked and untreated.  

Clarifying the different definitions related to child sexual abuse and exploitation will raise your awareness to situations which directly harm children and will allow you to understand their impact on a child’s life as well as identify ways to prevent them from happening.  

Furthermore, since some cases of online child sexual exploitation can also lead to sexual abuse of a child in the ‘real world’, it is necessary to understand the full scope of the problem in order to apply the best prevention methods.  

Term, Definition and Example 

Term 

Child Sexual Abuse 

Definition 

Sexual abuse of children is a form of sexual violence against children which requires no element of exchange, and can occur for the mere purpose of the sexual gratification of the person committing the act. Such abuse can be committed without explicit force, with other elements, such as authority, power, or manipulation being determining factors.  

Example 

  • Incest  
  • Rape 
  • Child sexual molestation  
  • Sexual touching of a child 
  • Non-touching sexual abuse (photographing/filming a child in a sexual situation, forcing a child to watch sexual material) 
  • Sexual harassment (verbal or physical)  

Term 

Child Sexual Exploitation  

Definition  

What distinguishes the concept of child sexual exploitation from other forms of child sexual abuse is the underlying notion of exchange present in exploitation. While these two phenomena must be distinguished, it is also important to acknowledge that there is considerable overlap between them, and that, semantically, the distinction will probably never be completely clear. 

Example 

  • Child trafficking 
  • Exploitation of children in prostitution  

Term 

Online Child Sexual Exploitation  

Definition 

Includes all acts of a sexually exploitative nature carried out against a child that have, at some stage, a connection to the online environment. It includes any use of ICT that results in sexual exploitation or causes a child to be sexually exploited or that results in or causes images or other material documenting such sexual exploitation to be produced, bought, sold, possessed, distributed, or transmitted. 

Example 

  • The production and distribution online of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) and Child Sexual Exploitation Material (CSEM) 
  • Live streaming of children in sexual situations 
  • Blackmailing children using naked pictures or sexually explicit pictures of the child (Sextortion) 
  • Sending children pornographic material 
  • Online grooming of a child for the purpose of sexually exploiting the child online or offline  
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