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New research sheds light on Australian demand for child sexual abuse online

IJM Media Release

New research released by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) today sheds light on the prevalence of Australians accessing child sexual abuse material online.

The study, ‘Prevalence of viewing online child sexual abuse material among Australian adults’, surveyed over 13,000 Australian adults, with 0.8 per cent of participants disclosing they had intentionally viewed online child sexual abuse material in the past year.

International Justice Mission (IJM) Australia said the new data was important in establishing the scale of the demand for online child sexual abuse material within Australia to support tech sector regulation against it.

“Continued effort from the Australian Government, international law enforcement agencies and tech companies is essential to preventing the sexual exploitation of children online,” IJM Australia Chief Advocacy Officer Grace Wong said.

“The most effective measure to protect children from harm is to prevent child sexual abuse material from being created and distributed online, including through video livestreams.”

“Tech companies have a pivotal role to play in proactively stopping content at the source, and detecting and reporting child sexual abuse materials that are created and shared on their platforms.”

IJM’s recent Scale of Harm1 report found nearly half a million Filipino children, or roughly 1 in 100, were trafficked in 2022 alone to produce new online child sexual exploitation material for profit.

Once created, child sexual abuse material is accessed online by perpetrators around the world, with Australians accounting for 1 in 5 offenders of the online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines in 20202.

IJM works together with international law enforcement agencies to protect vulnerable children in the Philippines from online sexual exploitation and abuse by child sex offenders, including in Australia.

The US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received almost 32 million child sexual abuse material reports in 2022, a 47 per cent increase since 2020.

“Despite the disturbing increase in the availability of child sexual abuse materials available online, the Australian Government is continuing to take world-leading steps to address this pandemic-proportioned problem.”

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland announced in November the Australian Government would strengthen the Basic Online Safety Expectations and bring forward a review of the Online Safety Act.

The eSafety Commissioner’s social media services code, which requires social media platforms to take action against child sexual abuse materials on their platforms, came into effect on 16 December.

“Now it’s up to tech companies to take ownership of this problem on their platforms,” Ms Wong said.

* * * * *

For more information about IJM Australia, visit: www.ijm.org.au

AIC report ‘Prevalence of viewing online child sexual abuse materials among Australian Adults is available here.

1 IJM 2023 Scale of Harm report available here.

2IJM 2020 OSEC in the Philippines report available here.


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