Suojellaan Lapsia ry/Protect Children launches international #OnlineSafety campaign to raise awareness on children’s online safety and reporting the online crimes to police

The #OnlineSafety campaign, in Finnish #TurvallisestiNetissä has already reached and increased awareness of over 3 million people in Finland. See the campaing video here.

As Suojellaan Lapsia ry/Protect Children’s senior specialists and national and international authorities have warned, The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of images and videos of child sexual abuse known as #CSAM circulating online. The perpetrators are constantly developing new ways of committing sexual crimes against children. Suojellaan Lapsia ry /Protect Children has years of experience and expertise in fighting against online child sexual abuse and exploitation. Senior specialists Nina Vaaranen-Valkonen and Hanna-Leena Laitinen are working in a global alliance Project Arachnid and analyzing CSAM. They are also working closely with survivors of sexual violence and their families as well as training professionals and advocate the rights of the child in all environments, also in digital media.

“Awareness raising is crucial because it is extremely difficult for us all, children, adolescents as well as us adults, to recognize situations where we are becoming the target of grooming or other criminal aims” says Hanna-Leena Laitinen, director of public affairs and advocacy, senior specialist.

In order to enlarge the reach of the important message, Suojellaan Lapsia ry/Protect Children collaborates with Europol on the launch of the #OnlineSafety- campaign.

We need wide international and national collaboration to make sure that every child is protected, especially due to the escalated online danger during the Covid-19 pandemic and after care. Reporting these serious crimes to police cannot be stressed enough. Says Nina Vaaranen Valkonen, executive director and senior specialist.

According to Europol, what is different during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The global impact of COVID-19 means people will be spending more time online. This includes both children and adults. Adults working remotely are less able to spend time with their children, who are likely to be allowed greater unsupervised internet access. As a result, children may:

  • be more exposed to offenders through online gaming, the use of chat groups in apps, phishing attempts via email, unsolicited contact in social media and through less secure online educational applications;
  • be more inclined towards making explicit material to exchange with peers;
  • become lonely and isolated, which offenders may try to benefit from, connecting with them to produce explicit material or to arrange a meeting in real life once restrictions are lifted.

While the majority of children can use the internet safely – staying in touch with their peers and studying – it’s important to be aware of the risks they face when going online, such as grooming, sexual coercion and extortion, sexting, bullying or accessing harmful content.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, in collaboration with Europol, has developed a Global Online Safety Advice for Parents and Carers to help keep children safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For further information on how to teach your child to be safe online, visit https://www.europol.europa.eu/covid-19/covid-19-child-sexual-exploitation