Online Child Sexual Exploitation: A Growing Concern

Phnom Penh: While a lot of benefits from technology are recognised globally, it has also been exploited for illegal activities such as producing, accessing and distributing child sexual abuse materials. Online Child Sexual Exploitation is also causing a growing concern amongst stakeholders working in child rights and protection in the world and in Cambodia. However, not many people have known or recognized the nature and scope of Online Child Sexual Exploitation and all its manifestations.

APLE Cambodia has been operating Internet Hotline Cambodia (IHC) since 2015 and the official launch was celebrated in 2016. The hotline provides a secure venue for the public to report child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) anonymously and allows APLE to coordinate notice/takedown actions with other hotlines and law enforcement.  

With recent cooperation with ECPAT Sweden to increase knowledge about the hotline existence and its key functions as well as to improve awareness levels concerning OCSE, on 28th June 2018, APLE Cambodia organized a roundtable meeting with 60 children and youth from different communities in Phnom Penh to enable them to get better awareness of online child sexual exploitation and internet safety. During the meeting, several topics, including the advantages and risks of using the Internet and social media, instances of online violations such as sexting, child pornography, sextortion and the importance of reporting were discussed. The children and youth were also taught about the APLE Internet hotline reporting process, so they now know and will be able to report if they come across child sexual abuse material on the Internet.

One of the participants said that internet users may not pay much attention to risks of their use. Actually, there are many cases of sexual abuse and exploitation in many countries, including Cambodia. Child sexual abuse images are posted on social media. The roundtable participants committed to convey the knowledge and experience gained from the meeting to share with their communities and encourage them to stay safe while being online.