Why we need to stop revictimisation
Child sexual abuse – rape, abuse and exploitation of children – is frequently documented and shared on the internet. This leaves sexually abused children in the knowledge that the awful crime committed against them can be seen online. And this is why we say that every time an image or video is shared, the child is abused again. We call it revictimisation.
As victims of child sexual abuse grow older many realise that there is little they can do to stop evidence of their abuse from circulating online. This knowledge can be deeply traumatising and can continue to haunt them into adulthood.
Often, child sexual abuse survivors will say that the dissemination of images and films online affects them differently than the hands on abuse did, and this is because the material can live on forever on the internet, it never goes away – unless we do something about it.
Platforms and applications that we use every day to connect, work and share information are now being used to disseminate and collect child sexual abuse material. The platforms and apps most mentioned in this regard in the NetClean 2019 report were Skype, followed by Snapchat, Facebook, Kik, Omegle. WhatsApp, TikTok, LiveMe, Instagram, Zoom and Periscope were also frequently mentioned.
When we focus on fighting material online, it is important that we don’t lose sight of the fact that each and every file represents a crime; abuse directed towards children. As ethical corporate citizens, businesses and organisations can stop these crimes, by detecting or blocking child sexual abuse material in their IT environments and directly limit the revictimisation that children suffer every time an image is shared.
When we focus on fighting material online, it is important that we don’t lose sight of the fact that each and every file represents a crime; abuse directed towards children.
Businesses, corporations, and organisations use computers, other devices and the internet every day to communicate. As major stakeholders in the online world, they should therefore help to take global responsibility for the activities online and comply with policies to act on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, especially 16.2 which is to ’end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children. This includes guarding the online world.
If businesses can halt the dissemination of this material and help law enforcement bring perpetrators to justice, then they can help grow children that do not suffer extended and extensive harm, that grow up to be not only well-functioning happy adults, but also productive citizens, employees and consumers.