Protecting children in the darkest places

Each year during National Child Protection Week, all Australians are urged to play their part in keeping children safe.

In 2017, the theme of the week is ‘Stronger Communities, Safer Children’. It’s a powerful reminder that child protection is a whole of community concern. Indeed, the old adage about it taking a village to raise a child is as relevant to the online world as the offline.

At the eSafety Office, we take our role protecting children online seriously.

Day in, day out, eSafety’s CyberReport team tackles profoundly confronting content showing appalling physical and sexual abuse committed against children as young as three months old.

This material is copied and shared within global offender networks, acting as a kind of currency: the more extreme the image, the higher its value.  Sadly there is no shortage of this content, but CyberReport isn’t alone in our fight.

Every image and video we hunt down is referred to INHOPE—a global network of hotlines, law enforcement agencies and industry members spanning 43 countries. INHOPE’s sole mission is to eradicate online child sexual abuse material, and more than 90% of content referred through this network is removed within just days of notification.

Interrupting the availability of this kind of content is crucial – not just because it is highly illegal to possess and share, but because of the continuing impact on the innocent children whose violation it memorialises.

Victims have spoken powerfully—during trials and public inquiries here and overseas—about the effect of knowing that photos depicting their abuse continue to be exchanged by offenders worldwide.

That knowledge—that images showing their crime scene are being shared over and over—results in victims feeling like mere objects to be traded, not human beings.

It is a trade founded on the commodification of debasement and pain. 

With this in mind, each year CyberReport marks National Child Protection Week by focusing our weeklong efforts exclusively on combatting child sexual abuse material, deleting it at the source.

Much of what we investigate this week will be ‘self-generated’ content procured by predators who threaten the child involved, or who manipulate a trust relationship. 

Together, as a community of concerned and committed adults, we can make children safer online.

Follow the eSafety Office on Twitter and Facebook to stay involved with CyberReport’s efforts this National Child Protection Week.