On the occasion of the European day on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, the Commission reaffirms its determination to fight child sexual abuse with all the tools at its disposal. Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, said: “Under the Security Union Strategy, we are working to protect all those living in Europe, both online and offline. Children are particularly vulnerable, especially as the coronavirus pandemic correlates with increased sharing of child sexual abuse images online, and we have an obligation to protect them.” Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “Imagine as a child victim knowing the worst moment in your life is still circulating on the internet. Even worse, imagine that an opportunity to be saved from ongoing abuse was missed because tools had become illegal. Companies need to be able to report so that police can stop images circulating and even save children.” Over the last years, there has been a significant increase in child sexual abuse and exploitation cases and recently the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the situation. Europol found that as Member States introduced lockdown and quarantine measures, the number of self-produced materials increased, while travel restrictions and other restrictive measures means that offenders increasingly exchange materials online. In July, the Commission adopted a comprehensive EU strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse. Under the Strategy, we proposed legislation to ensure that providers of online communications services can continue voluntary measures to detect child sexual abuse online. In addition, Europol provides support to operations such as the recent action targeting child trafficking. The agency also monitors criminal trends in the Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) and dedicated reports on the evolution of threats, including child sexual abuse, in the times of COVID-19.
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