Focusing on online facilitated child sexual abuse, this book takes a rigorous approach to existing literature to address some of the most pressing public and policy questions surrounding the evolution of online child sexual abuse.
The authors provide an unparalleled examination of which children are most vulnerable to this type of abuse, how their vulnerability is made, what they are vulnerable to and how resilience, both human and technical, can be promoted. They also consider the changing nature of child sexual abuse in the digital age and the consequences of this for victims and survivors, as well as for practitioners and policymakers working in prevention and response.
This introductory chapter provides an overview of online child sexual abuse, which is a concern for many parents, practitioners, and policy makers. One dominant fear is that of the stranger approaching children online, lurking in chatrooms masquerading as a child in order to lure victims for abusive ends. Yet child sexual abuse can also begin offline and become online through filming or photography, or it can be virtual, such as in the distribution of child abuse images. Indeed, distinctions between online- and offline-facilitated child sexual abuse are increasingly blurred. This book focuses on online child sexual victimisation. Victims are made both by the acts perpetrated on them (by perpetrators) and by the social context in which these acts take place and the consequences that are felt. The book examines online-facilitated child sexual abuse research through the lens of this social context, which contains multiple definitions of what is childhood, sex, and abuse as it connects to the Internet.
This chapter outlines what is known about the characteristics, vulnerabilities, and on- and offline behaviour of victims of online-facilitated child sexual abuse and exploitation, considering the analysis carried out through a systematic rapid evidence assessment (REA). Beginning with a summary of research sources, it presents four general conclusions from the research. First, online child sexual victimisation (OCSV) is varied. At least five types of OCSV were identified: grooming by strangers, primarily initiated in social networking or gaming websites; sexual exploitation by strangers in webcam centres and similar; sexual abuse by family members or acquaintances that is photographed or videoed; coercive sexual violence between peers, leading to youth-produced material; and trafficking of child abuse material online. Second, an important finding from the triangulation of the different data sources is the under-reporting, and lack of research, concerning young children who are subject to OCSV. A third finding is that the field encompasses a wide range of behaviours and social phenomena that are often implicit in the research, including the relationship between sexual victimisation and other sources of harm, such as cyberbullying; childhood sexual activity that is not violent; gender regimes and patriarchy; and social divisions and intersectionality. Finally, there is significant variation in the definitions and concepts utilised in the research, which makes direct comparison problematic.
This chapter discusses how childhood sexuality has been researched in historical, clinical, and academic studies outside the rapid evidence assessment (REA). It finds that, first, recognition of childhood sexuality is evident in all three fields. Second, even when confronted by contradictory evidence, Sigmund Freud's theory retains currency within which understanding of childhood (sexual) development is reported; acceptance of the latency of childhood sexuality (or asexuality) perpetuates a context for framing childhood as asexual. Actions such as imitations of adult sex, watching pornography, and concern about early puberty stray into the realms of the abnormal as a consequence. The chapter then examines some of the sexual practices engaged in by children mediated by the online environment. It considers consensual youth-involved sexual imagery online and the difficult task of distinguishing between normative sexual exploration, ‘sexting’, and online child sexual victimisation (OCSV).
This chapter reviews what is known about child sexual abuse media, with a particular focus on the abuse of young children (those under the age of 10). Young children are seldom the subject of research on sexual violence, yet the online-facilitated sexual abuse of these children is known to exist. In the past, child sexual abuse has been described as a hidden phenomenon that is made visible through a child's disclosure or evidence in and on their bodies. Online child sexual victimisation (OCSV) experienced by young children is still hidden in this traditional sense but at the same time highly visible through images that are both detached from the child yet traumatically attached through their creation and continued circulation throughout childhood. Indeed, most of what can be known about OCSV and younger children is through analyses of images harvested online and analyses of law enforcement and non-governmental organisation (NGO) image databases. These sources suggest that OCSV involving young children is different from that experienced by those who are older. It more often involves parents, carers, and family members; it is legally and developmentally impossible for children to consent to it; and images and videos of the abuse are more likely to be trafficked.
This chapter examines the concepts of ‘vulnerability’ and ‘resilience’, noting that most research focuses only on an individualised understanding of these terms. What can be known from empirical research is reviewed through the lens of intersectional theory, which accentuates the need for a whole-system approach to afford children greater protection. Just as online child sexual victimisation (OCSV) is not homogenous, neither are children. Their age, gender, race, sexualities, migration status, and class intersect and change over time. Vulnerability and resilience can be time and identity specific. They can also be fluid; a prior victimisation does not necessarily result in vulnerability, and resilience to one form of OCSV may not provide resilience to another. From a child's perspective, OCSV experience holds similarities and important differences in terms of perpetration and consequences, requiring tailored intersectional responses at the appropriate level.
This concluding chapter calls for greater clarity and agreement on definitions and measurement practices concerning online child sexual victimisation (OCSV). First, there is a need for agreed definitions of OCSV that distinguish between normative childhood sexuality and sexual violence, both on- and offline. Second, research, policy, and practices must reflect that the child is only one element that requires protection. Taking a cybersecurity asset approach, the chapter emphasises the need for coordinated action to enhance and protect social goods, such as trust in technology, law enforcement resources, and fundamental rights. Finally, it recommends that guardianship responsibility is extended to children themselves and considers some of the technical tools that might assist their participation.
Available Open Access under CC-BY-NC licence. The need to stop rape is pressing and, since it is the outcome of a wide range of practices and institutions in society, so too must the policies be to stop it This important book offers a comprehensive guide to the international policies developed to stop rape , together with case study examples on how they work. The book engages with the law and criminal justice system, health services, specialised services for victim-survivors, educational and cultural interventions, as well as how they can best be coordinated. It is informed by theory and evidence drawn from scholarship and practice from around the world.
The book will be of interest to a global readership of students, practitioners and policy makers as well as anyone who wants to know how rape can be stopped.
Rape shatters lives. Its traumatising effects can linger for many years after the immediate pain and suffering. Rape is a consequence and a cause of gender inequality. It is an injury to health; a crime; a violation of women’s human rights; and costly to both the economy and society.
Stopping rape requires changes to many policies and practices. There is no simple solution; rather, a myriad of reforms are needed to prevent rape. New policies are being innovated around the world, north and south, which are often intended to prevent rape and to support victims/survivors simultaneously. This book provides an overview of the current best practice from around the world for ending rape.
In order to prevent rape, it is necessary to know what causes rape. The selection of the examples of good and promising practice in this book is guided by a theory of the causes of rape. The causal pathways that lead to rape involve many of society’s institutions. These pathways are embedded in the state and public services, including the criminal justice system and healthcare; culture, media and education; in other forms and contexts of violence; and in the economy.
Stopping rape requires the effective mobilisation of all of these actors and institutions. It is not a single institution that needs to change, however: most social institutions need reform, and society needs transforming. Prevention is not a simple matter of changing attitudes such as by ‘educating’ boys, although every reform makes a contribution. Preventing rape requires reforms in the many institutions that make up the social system.
Preventing rape requires policies that affect many aspects of society. No single intervention is sufficient. This is because many of the causes of rape lie deep in the structures and systems of society. The details of these various interventions are addressed in the chapters that follow. The focus in this chapter is on: the strategic planning for a comprehensive set of policy practices; the coordination of multiple services; the initial development of specialist services for victim-survivors; and the data and research needed to evaluate policy developments.
Strategic planning is taking place at multiple levels: the UN, the Council of Europe, the EU and individual states. The creation of ‘national action plans’ (NAPs) that are regularly reviewed and evaluated has been an important part of the development of strategic planning. The development of strategic planning and the evaluation of policies require research, data and statistics. It is necessary to know how much rape there is, its patterns, and the quality of the performance of the institutions that are supposed to be addressing the problem.
There are a myriad of services and practices that might potentially be useful to victim-survivors and to changing the environment that produces rape. Coordination of multiple services for victim-survivors not only has a national component but also regional and local aspects. The specialised services for victim-survivors can be either standalone services or integrated into generic services. This chapter discusses the development of standalone services, while Chapters 3 and 4 on health and on justice discuss specialised victim services that are developed within these mainstream service providers.