Communication from Protect Children regarding the EU Strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse

Read the EU Strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse

Through its ReDirection project, Protect Children aims to reach individuals who search for and view child sexual abuse material (CSAM) especially in the dark web. Protect Children adopts a public health approach in the prevention of sexual violence against children, and firmly believes that child protection efforts must be approached from multiple angles. The ReDirection project aims to act as a deterrent and a low-threshold intervention for individuals with an existing motivation to change their behavior to stop viewing CSAM.  

The global recognition Protect Children has received regarding the ReDirection project speaks volumes about its impact and innovative nature. Alongside far-reaching interest online, and in the media, the ReDirection project has been cited in a submission to the Australian Parliament, as well as in WeProtect Global Alliance’s recently published Global Threat Assessment 2021.[1] 

The ReDirection project contributes significantly to the fifth initiative set out in the EU Strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse. The fifth initiative cites the “current lack of research [which] makes it difficult to draw up and put in place effective programmes at all stages”.[2] Protect Children has conducted unprecedented and groundbreaking research which has been called for by top experts in the field.[3]  

Protect Children has developed a new anonymous and rehabilitative ReDirection Self-Help Program for CSAM users.[4] The program has been developed on the basis of the responses provided by the respondents through the Help us to help you survey, as well as the manualized NEW DIRECTION – Personal Rehabilitation Programme®.[5] 

The fifth initiative of the EU’s Strategy goes on to state: “[t]he few [prevention] programmes that are in place are rarely evaluated to assess their effectiveness”.[6] Protect Children’s ReDirection Self-Help Program will go through thorough evaluation and will continue to be evaluated, developed and updated. Protect Children’s aim is to ensure long-term, sustainable solutions in the prevention of sexual violence against children. The ReDirection Self-Help Program offers a focused and innovative prevention and intervention method. 

Anonymous dark web research on non-convicted CSAM users reveals that 37% of individuals who viewed CSAM had also sought direct contact with a child after viewing the material.[7] Moreover, 44% of respondents stated: “they have, at least once, thought about seeking direct contact with children through online platforms”.[8] This “indicate[s] a significant correlation between [CSAM use and direct offending]”.[9Therefore, and as highlighted in the eighth and final initiative, existing CSAM must be removed as effectively as possible. As stated by Insoll, Ovaska, and Vaaranen-Valkonen: “[…] it is of paramount importance to remove detected CSAM from the web. This requires coordinated effort from all relevant parties, including internet service providers, social media platforms, law enforcement agencies, NGOs and researchers”.[10] They also underline the gargantuan scale of the problem, recognizing the unfeasibility of merely relying on individual reports made to LEA, NGOs, hotlines, and so on. “Due to the vast volumes of CSAM already in existence online, advanced technological solutions are urgently required to identify, report and remove such content”.[11] 

Protect Children is committed to fulfilling the aims laid out in the EU Strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse. 
 

Protect Children’s two-year ReDirection project is funded by End Violence Against Children

[1] See: Harriet Grant, ’Online child abuse survey finds third of viewers attempt contact with children’ (The Guardian, 27 September 2021); YLE, ’”I don’t know how to stop”: Finnish initiative offers self-help for people viewing sexually exploitative images of children’ (YLE News, 27 September 2021; Broadhurst R & Ball M, ’Tor’s underworld, ‘onion services’ and child sex abuse material: Submission to the Australian Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement inquiry into ‘Law enforcement capabilities in relation to child exploitation’ (21 September 2021); WeProtect Global Alliance, Global Threat Assessment 2021.  

[2] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: EU Strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse, p 9. 

[3] Seto MC, Hanson RK, Babchishin KM, Contact sexual offending by men with online sexual offenses Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 23(1) 124–145 (2011) p 139. 

[4] ReDirection Self-Help Program. The Program is also available through the TOR browser.  

[5] Research report concluding the dark web research findings: Insoll T, Ovaska A & Vaaranen-Valkonen N, CSAM Users in the Dark Web: Protecting Children Through Prevention (Suojellaan Lapsia ry. ReDirection Survey Report 2021); Nina Nurminen, NEW DIRECTION – Personal Rehabilitation Programme® (2014, Nina Nurminen, Criminal Sanctions Agency).  

[6] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: EU Strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse, p 9. 

[7] Insoll T, Ovaska A & Vaaranen-Valkonen N, CSAM Users in the Dark Web: Protecting Children Through Prevention (Suojellaan Lapsia ry. ReDirection Survey Report 2021), p. 41.

[8] Insoll T, Ovaska A & Vaaranen-Valkonen N, CSAM Users in the Dark Web: Protecting Children Through Prevention (Suojellaan Lapsia ry. ReDirection Survey Report 2021), p. 40.

[9] Insoll T, Ovaska A & Vaaranen-Valkonen N, CSAM Users in the Dark Web: Protecting Children Through Prevention (Suojellaan Lapsia ry. ReDirection Survey Report 2021), p. 18.

[10] Insoll T, Ovaska A & Vaaranen-Valkonen N, CSAM Users in the Dark Web: Protecting Children Through Prevention (Suojellaan Lapsia ry. ReDirection Survey Report 2021), p. 18.

[11] Insoll T, Ovaska A & Vaaranen-Valkonen N, CSAM Users in the Dark Web: Protecting Children Through Prevention (Suojellaan Lapsia ry. ReDirection Survey Report 2021), p. 18.