How we can eliminate child sexual abuse material from the internet

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Online child sexual exploitation and abuse is perhaps the worst manifestation of what can happen when children enter the digital world unprotected. Since 2016, End Violence has supported organisations working to prevent and respond to online child sexual exploitation and abuse, filling a major, growing gap in the child protection space.

One of those grantees is Thorn, an organisation that invests in tech-led approaches to ending online child sexual abuse. Julie Cordua, the Executive Director of Thorn, recently held a Ted Talk on Thorn’s work and the reasons behind it.

“They [abusers] win when we look at one piece of the puzzle at a time – which is exactly how our response today is designed,” Cordua said in her talk. “Law enforcement looks at one jurisdiction. Companies look at just their platform. And whatever data they learn along the way is rarely shared…We have to redesign our response to this epidemic for the digital age, and that’s exactly what we’re doing at Thorn.”

From May 2018 to April 2021, End Violence is supporting Thorn’s Bringing Light to the Dark Web project, which uses a new tool to help law enforcement identify children who are victims of online sexual exploitation and abuse. The project, which is being implemented in 55 countries across the world, aims to remove more children from abusive situations, reduce the time it takes to identify new child sexual abuse material, reduce the investigative time to identify a child in abuse material, and foster collaboration among law enforcement worldwide.

“We’re building the technology to connect these dots, to arm everyone on the frontlines – law enforcement, NGOs and companies – with the tools they need to ultimately eliminate child sexual abuse from the internet."

Julie Cordua, the Executive Director of Thorn

Through the End Violence Fund, we have invested $32 million in projects that prevent and respond to online child sexual exploitation and abuse – strengthening the work of 37 initiatives in more than 30 countries. This includes rescuing victims; creating reporting hotlines to report child sexual abuse material and access support; educating children, families and communities about the risks and strategies for staying safe; partnering with industry to strengthen online safety nets.

Learn more about the End Violence Fund.