Disrupting Harm (Global)

Evidence from 14 countries on the context, threats, and children’s perspectives of online child sexual exploitation and abuse

Disrupting Harm is a large-scale data collection and research project to better understand online child sexual exploitation and abuse across the world. This study, which is supported by the Fund, will assess the scale, nature and context of this issue in 14 countries across Southern and Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia. Three grantee partners will work together to conduct the study, including ECPAT International, INTERPOL and the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti. There are three pieces of this project, including:

1. Context, by ECPAT International 

Desk review: ECPAT will conduct a comprehensive secondary exploration of the existing research, legislation, policy and systems addressing online child sexual exploitation and abuse for each target country. ECPAT will undertake the following primary research activities:

  • Government interviews: Conduct 10-12 in-depth interviews with senior national duty-bearers with a focus on law enforcement and justice, to understand the current legislative and policy environment, identify emerging issues and trends, recent progress, upcoming plans and priorities.
  • Non-law enforcement data: Collect and analyse quantitative data from a range of complementary sources to triangulate and supplement the threat assessment completed by INTERPOL.
  • Frontline workers’ survey: Face-to-face surveys of 50 welfare staff per country to understand the scale, scope and context of online child sexual exploitation and abuse presenting in the caseloads of those on the welfare frontline.
  • Access to justice and compensation: Interviews with 10 victims/survivors of online child sexual exploitation and abuse, 10 parents/caregivers and 10 justice stakeholders per country to understand how justice mechanisms may deal with cases of online child sexual exploitation and abuse.
  • Girl and boy survivor experiences: A total of 40 female and 40 male survivors of online child sexual exploitation and abuse across four identified countries will be interviewed by an expert, trauma-informed practitioner. These activities will be strongly survivor-centred, and the experiences shared will be at the discretion of survivors. The intent is to bring survivor perspectives to the understanding of this issue, with a focus on the gaps identified in the other forms of data and specifically dimensions relevant to boys and rarely investigated.

2. Threats, by INTERPOL

For each country, INTERPOL’s Crimes Against Children Unit will map the threats and technical enablers of online child sexual exploitation and abuse (e.g. child sexual abuse material production, distribution, possession, soliciting sex from minors, live streaming or distant child abuse). This will be followed by data collection involving both primary and secondary sources to determine and measure the scope and nature of the problem. Data will be collected from law enforcement agencies, specialised units such as Child Protection, Cybercrime, Internet Crimes Against Children, Anti-Human Trafficking, Juvenile Protection, as well as Ministries of Justice and Interior. Data compiled by INTERPOL and partners’ foreign agencies will also be used. Furthermore, local, regional, and international partners, as well as regional public bodies, NGOs, Internet and content service providers and hotlines will be used as valuable sources of data. Where there is potential connection, INTERPOL and ECPAT will coordinate their analysis efforts in order to maximize efficiency.

Simultaneously, a needs analysis on the capacity of law enforcement agencies to fight online child sexual exploitation and abuse in the focus countries will be carried out. The entire process will be underpinned by INTERPOL National Central Bureaus, INTERPOL Regional Bureaus, as well as the INTERPOL Specialist Group on Crimes Against Children, which meets annually to provide a forum for all stakeholders to exchange on threats, trends and best practices.

Finally, all three organizations will combine their findings to generate an analysis to provide a specific insight in each focus country. Throughout the duration of the project, data will be collected and handled in accordance with INTERPOL’s Rules on the Processing of Data.

3. Children’s perspectives, by UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti

UNICEF Office of Research will conduct nationally-representative household surveys with approximately 1,000 children and 1,000 of their parents/caregivers in each of the 14 partner countries, together with UNICEF Country Offices.

The purpose is to hear directly from children and parents about their online experiences, including both positive experiences as well as experiences of online violence, sexual exploitation and abuse. UNICEF’s Global Kids Online methodology will serve as the foundation for this survey, but it will be extended and updated through consultations with children, national stakeholders and governments.

For more information, read the Disrupting Harm project brief in English. The project brief is also available in the following languages:

Khmer          Vietnamese          Bahasa Indonesia          Thai          Portuguese