WARNING: ACTIVISTS IN BRUSSELS WEAR HAZMAT SUITS
AS INTERNET IS A DANGER ZONE FOR KIDS
A EUROPE-WIDE COALITION MARCHED ON THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT TODAY TO DEMAND ACTION ON CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE REGULATION
- The coalition’s aims are supported by a majority of European citizens according to new data from the European Commission.
- As well as more than 400,000 individuals of the public through a petition.
- And more than 100 young people, survivors, academics and celebrities who have signed an open letter in support of the proposed EU Regulation to prevent and combat child sexual abuse.
- EU leaders are called upon to use their political power to pass this legislation and protect children from sexual abuse online.
September 19, 2023 [Brussels, Belgium]: Today, survivors, young people, child rights organisations, and other advocates from across the EU marched on Brussels to ask EU leaders to ‘clean up the internet’ from sexual predators and protect our children online.
In a defiant stunt to capture the attention of EU decision-makers, a coalition took to the streets to show support for the proposed EU Regulation to prevent and combat child sexual abuse.
Wearing “Child Safety ON” hazmat suits and warning signs, activists highlighted the dangers of the internet for children and called on EU leaders to use their political power to pass this legislation and protect children from sexual abuse online.
Statistics show a frightening constant increase of the use of the internet by sexual predators to groom children and share child sexual abuse materials, targeting more and more very young children, toddlers and babies.
The action comes as new data from the European Commission’s Eurobarometer found that Europeans are widely strongly supportive of the bid to protect children online:
- 92% agree that children are increasingly at risk online.
- 82% agree that tools like parental control are not enough to keep children safe online
- 78% support or strongly support the Commission’s proposal to fight child sexual abuse
Across Europe, over 100 young people, child abuse survivors, celebrities, academics and child safety experts have come together to sign an open letter calling for EU lawmakers to pass the European Commission’s CSA proposal. Notable open letter signatories include Swedish supermodel Elsa Hosk, former Dutch international footballer Dennis Bergkamp, internationally acclaimed Irish actor Jessie Buckley, and French movie star Ludivine Sagnier.
Youth activist Taveres Ferreira said: “Every second, at least two images or videos of child sexual abuse are shared online. This equates to over 52,000 images or videos in a working day, of which more than 60% are uploaded to servers in Europe. Behind each of these is someone who has to live with the long-term trauma from their abuse, the horrendous violation of their privacy, and the circulation of their images online. We need to act to clean up the internet from criminals who use it to harm our children.
“The Regulation currently discussed at the EU level is absolutely vital to ensure that all online platforms make sure their services are safe for children and that they detect and remove child sexual abuse materials. We are here to urge EU leaders in Brussels and throughout the EU to take action to clean up the internet and make it a safe place for children.”
- In 2022, 40% of the child sexual abuse webpages found online featured a child under 10, and more of the most horrific categories of abuse were found online than ever before, according to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
- This is a problem that the EU is at the heart of as 60% of child sexual abuse reported is hosted in an EU member state.
- 78% of EU citizens support the EU to introduce long-term legislation that will keep children safe online.
Brave spokesperson Mié Kohiyama, survivor, member of the Brave Movement and founder of Brave Movement France said: “I do not know if I will ever truly heal the trauma of being raped as a 5-year-old. I can’t imagine the horror of my abuse being online, available for predators and criminals to view and monetize. But this is the fate of thousands of children and survivors. The number one demand from survivors is to have their material removed from the internet and this can simply not be done without detection tools. Victims of online child sexual abuse not only suffer ‘hands-on’ abuse but continue to suffer each time CSAM is distributed or viewed. That’s why I use my voice to defend these children, to prevent more children suffering at the hands of abusers profiting from technology to spread their heinous crimes. We plead with EU leaders today – please protect children and honor survivors. Please pass this regulation.”
The proposed EU legislation would require online service providers to prevent, detect, report, and remove child sexual abuse online. It would also establish an EU Centre to prevent and counter child sexual abuse, where child rights professionals, tech experts, survivors, and law enforcement would work together to tackle this cross-border crime.
About the ECLAG Coalition
The ECLAG coalition is formed of over 60 child rights organisations working across the EU to raise awareness of the pressing need to protect children online in our ever developing digital world. The Steering Group of the coalition is made up of the Brave Movement, ECPAT International, Eurochild, the Internet Watch Foundation, Missing Children Europe, Terre des Hommes International Federation and Thorn.