CONCLUSION AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
IT IS DIFFICULT TO GRASP THE SCALE OF CSA CRIME, HOWEVER IT IS EASY TO
UNDERSTAND THAT WE MUST GALVANISE A RESPONSE
Anna Borgström, CEO, NetClean
The year 2020 was a shock to the system. Nobody could imagine what would follow when we raised our glasses to the new year back in December 2019. My hopes for 2021, are that we get to grips with the pandemic and the spread of the coronavirus. But, even if we reach this goal, it is clear that we will have to deal with the fallout from the pandemic for years to come.
Many have lost close ones, and even if we have not, everyone has been affected by lockdowns, travel restrictions and social distancing. And when the world turned its attention to fighting the virus, we who work to stop child sexual abuse (CSA) crime had to find an even stronger focus and drive to make sure that the safeguarding of children stayed, and stays, a priority even when so many other concerns draw on our attention.
We have to act now
We have not yet conquered the pandemic, and it is still too early to draw major conclusions from the fallout that it generated. It is, however, not too early to investigate the challenges and risks that the pandemic has imposed on vulnerable children. Children in lockdown and under social restrictions are suffering now, so we have to act on the indications that state that children are at increased risk.
The vital findings in this year’s report are the differences between how countries have prioritised CSA crime, how they have responded to the pandemic, and how it has influenced police officers’ capacity to work on crimes against children. This report shows that closed schools and lockdowns have increased the risk of children being sexually abused, and governments and policy makers must consider these findings if and when, during this pandemic or in the future, they plan for future school closures and lockdowns.
And while we rely on governments and policy makers to work in the best interest of children, we have to ensure that all stakeholders in our societies contribute to fighting CSA crime. We all need to work incredibly hard. We need engagement, stamina and compassion, along with what I always advocate – collaboration and the use of effective technology.
All the pieces need to come together
It is difficult to grasp the scale of CSA crime, however it is easy to understand that we must galvanise a response. Think of it as a giant puzzle where everyone must collaborate to form a full picture.
Law enforcement forms a huge part here, and we are extremely grateful to all the law enforcement professionals who contributed with their knowledge and expertise to this report.
Another part of this puzzle is private industry and public sector employers, who with technology can help detect and report material that they find. Their part in this picture is vital, and we are equally grateful to those from these sectors who took the time to speak to us and share their insights into the discussions, thinking and processes behind why a business decides to work to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), the revictimisation of children, and to safeguard children by reporting CSAM to law enforcement.
At NetClean, we are big advocates of ethical leadership and the importance of incorporating ethical thinking and strategies into the core of a business. Businesses have the resources, power and sometimes sheer size to be a force for good, and to lead on positive developments in the world. This is why Tech4Good is so important. This year’s report really showed how much some businesses are invested in this issue, and it really made me very pleased.
Pleased that more businesses are now starting to understand that a simple tangible action can mean so much. By ensuring that IT equipment used by employees cannot be used to download, consume and distribute CSAM, employers can stop criminal activity, keep their IT environment clean, and help protect and safeguard children.
Thank you for reading this report. It is important that we talk about what is happening now, and even though we cannot draw any major conclusions from the data that we collected, we must act on the indications that we have seen. It is clear that the pandemic has affected both the real world and the online world. For perpetrators it has been a perfect storm, but in many places law enforcement agencies have seen this and responded quickly. It is also so positive to see that the private sector is starting to
talk about the work that they do to tackle CSAM crime.
Here’s to a better 2021!
We would like to extend our gratitude to the 470 police officers who participated in our research and took the time to share their knowledge and expertise with us. The work that you do is invaluable and life changing for all children who are safeguarded as a result.
We would also like to direct a big thank you to the individuals interviewed for the business insight section, for taking the time to share your expertise and insight to provide us with a better understanding of the drivers that lead you to address child sexual abuse material in corporate environments.
We want to thank our sister company Griffeye, for asking their customers to participate in the law enforcement survey on our behalf, and to the law enforcement agencies and officers who helped distribute the survey in their networks. Finally, we would like to extend a special thanks to the experts who have added their thoughts and insights into how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected child sexual abuse. You provide us with the opportunity to contextualise and bring further meaning to our research.