The scale of child sexual abuse is largely misunderstood in society
The public, and in many cases even decision-makers in businesses and public authority organisations, are unaware of the extent of the problem of child sexual abuse material happening in our society and local communities. This view is backed by 8 in 10 police officers in our global survey.
“I think the public has a tendency to think that it isn’t happening in their community.”
“I don’t think the public has any idea of the amount and content [involving child sexual abuse is available online].”
“Only a few of the cases make it to the media. And since this kind of material is now so easy to access through the net, it’s easier to find and download.”
The crimes we must not speak of
Despite a concerted effort to improve children welfare in societies, it is somewhat surprising that child sexual abuse remains a taboo. And it’s often hidden from the public spotlight.
Cecilia Wallin-Carlsson from the Swedish Police, National Operative Department, explained why child victims may choose to hide from the shame and refuse to speak out against the perpetrators:
“It is difficult to imagine what documented child sexual abuse really is, if you have not had it explained or seen what the images de facto show and seen the extent of images and videos on the Internet. The children depicted suffer and are punished twice, first by the physical abuse they have experienced and then because of the pictures taken.
“They must live with the fear that anyone, at any time, may see the abuse and may recognise them, or take sexual enjoyment from watching them being raped. Each time somebody looks at the images, it is like being violated again. If the public was made aware of the situation, opinion would probably appear very different; for this reason, it is important to get the information out.”
Jon Rouse is the head of Task Force Argos with the Queensland Police in Australia, a specialist unit targeting child sex offenders. He offers a different point of view from a police investigator working on child sexual abuse cases:
“We don’t talk much about the work that we do on a daily basis, and only a few cases make it to the media. As the work is not visible to the public, the public is also unaware of the scale of the problem.
“The negative effects of higher awareness could be, of course, people becoming unnecessarily scared and overly protective of children, and increased vigilantism. However, in order to deal with the issue, and secure more human resources, new technology, better legislation and policies etc., it is very important that the public and government understand that there is an element within society that have a disposition to sexually abuse children.
“It is also important to educate parents on how to protect their children best, which is an area that we focus heavily on. A simple example is teaching your children not to take selfies and not to give out personal information online.”
Read the full report here to find out about the true scale of child sexual crimes in societies. Help us spread the word and make a difference to stop further abuse from happening.