71 member states make first of its kind call to action to fight online violence against children

71 Un Member States Make First-of-its-kind Call to Action to Fight Online Violence Against Children

71 Member States of the United Nations have come together to make the very first call to action statement urging increased and fast action to remove known child sexual abuse materials online.

Online child sexual exploitation and abuse is growing significantly around the world and is increasingly involving younger children. In 2022, the US-based National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received 32 million reports (up from 29 million from 2021) of suspected child sexual exploitation.  

The first-ever call to action by the Member States directly recognises that governments and the private sector have a responsibility to take action to keep children safe from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, and points to the fact that law makers are rightfully concerned and are calling for greater urgency in our efforts to secure a safe digital environment for children. 

"Safe Online welcomes the ‘first of its kind’ call to action by over 70 Member States of the United Nations. The message from world leaders is clear – the digital space has to be rid of child sexual abuse material. We believe that the global call to action will signal the need for urgent concerted and decisive action by Governments and other stakeholders."
- Marija Manojlovic, Director, Safe Online

In the call to action, all the countries acknowledge the grave issue of child sexual exploitation and abuse material and how this puts children at risk of further sexual exploitation and abuse, including the risk of the widespread dissemination of this material. The statement recognises the stigma and long-lasting trauma caused to survivors, including revictimisation every time material is spread online.

It calls for:

    • urgent action by governments, internet service providers and other actors to protect children from online sexual exploitation and abuse
    • facilitation of dialogue between the different entities and sectors required for an effective response
    • the need for common data sources and knowledge of known child sexual abuse materials that makes detecting, reporting and removing materials easier
    • increasing public awareness of the serious nature of child sexual exploitation.

The call to action is informed by expert discussions hosted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), supported by the UK government. These discussions brought together a wide range of experts and activists, including from child protection charities, the public sector, the private sector and the legal and financial sectors.

This growing global consensus on the issue of taking urgent steps to tackle online harms against children follows on the heels of other positive legislations to keep children safe from online harm. Recent legislative action in countries like the UK, US and Australia are creating a blueprint for online safety for children through new mandatory rules, robust safeguards and a strong enforcement capacity.

In 2021, G7 governments announced a set of ground-breaking commitments to combat online CSEA and highlighted End Violence as key partner to help make the internet safe for children. In a historic move, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) adopted General Comment No. 25, marking the first instance of including the digital rights of children in its framework.

Most recently, in the EU, the proposed new legislation presents an exceptional opportunity to set high standards to protect children online through policy action, which is key in ensuring a safe digital environment. This leadership of the EU will have a positive impact in other regions of the world. Safe Online is part of a growing movement of child protection organisations supporting the #ChildSafetyOnlineNow campaign to raise awareness and generate momentum around tackling online CSEA.

The Safe Online initiative has been drawing attention to the need for aligned and decisive action by governments and tech companies in order to drive change urgently needed for children. In fact, our policy call for a safe internet for children outlines three key steps for governments and industries.

Our work at the global, regional and national levels in over 80 countries has brought to light new knowledge and evidence on what works – especially through our Disrupting Harm project and the ground-breaking work that we do with the Tech Coalition Research Fund. Our partnerships with grantees on the ground demonstrate the need for strong systems by focusing on strong regulatory and policy frameworks.

Learn more about the call to action here.

LIST OF SIGNATORY COUNTRIES

Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Argentina, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, India, Japan, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Sudan, Switzerland, Thailand, Türkiye, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vietnam, Yemen and the European Union and its 27 member states (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden) 

See more of our recent updates

UNICEF Ghana

Our grantees UNICEF Ghana Protecting children from online CSEA in Ghana Countries involved:May 2023 – May 2025 UNICEF Ghana is using support from the Fund to develop a National Plan of Action to tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse. The agency is also working closely with the National Cybersecurity Crime

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UNICEF, Save the Children & the International Forum of Solidarity-emmaus

Our grantees UNICEF, Save the Children & the International Forum of Solidarity-emmaus End Violence Against Children (EVAC): Preventing and Tackling Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Bosnia & Herzegovina Countries involved:Bosnia and Herzegovina The Fund is helping UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina, Save the Children, and International Forum of Solidarity-EMMAUS to work as a consortium

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Capital Humano Y Social (CHS) Alternativo

Our grantees Capital Humano Y Social (CHS) Alternativo Preventing and Responding to Online Child Sexual Exploitation Countries involved:Peru In Peru, the Fund is supporting Capital Humano y Social Alternativo (CHS) to address child sexual exploitation online. CHS is providing psychological and legal assistance to victims of online sexual exploitation. They are also

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Kenya launches groundbreaking training handbook to combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse

Kenya Launches Groundbreaking Training Handbook to Combat Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Kenya's National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) has launched a training handbook on the investigation and prosecution of online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA) in Kenya.

The handbook was developed with technical support from UNICEF Kenya, a grantee of the Safe Online Initiative at the End Violence Partnership, and launched by the Hon. Lady Justice Martha K. Koome, Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya & Chairperson, National Council on the Administration of Justice.

Marija Manojlovic, Safe Online Director, spoke at the launch event and highlighted the need for ensuring effective justice for children. “There is an urgent need to streamline the justice process for children. When implemented well, for example via ‘one-stop’ centres, it can provide a child-friendly setting for child victims, and facilitate collaboration and coordination between support services”, she said. 

The handbook is a huge step forward in training officers in the justice system on handling OCSEA cases in the child’s best interests. “The training package is a major step in implementing the Children Act. It will help in enforcing laws such as the Sexual Offences Act, which are designed to protect children online,” said Dominic Stolarow, UNICEF Kenya’s representative at the launch event. 

Safe Online has been supporting key actors in Kenya to ensure:

    • frontline workers have the knowledge and skills to prevent and respond to online CSEA
    • improved laws and standards for quality services, including the Kenya Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit that manages cases of online CSEA 
    • community outreach on online safety for children, caregivers and teachers.

Safe Online is proud to be a partner in Kenya’s journey towards a safe digital future for children.

Read the handbook here and view the work of Safe Online here

See more of our recent updates

MSB Medical School Berlin GmbH

Our grantees MSB Medical School Berlin GmbH RAPPID- (Risk Assessment for the Prevention & Promotion of Internet Deterrence) Countries involved:Germany Grant timeline:March 2023 – March 2025 Grantee website:www.medicalschool-berlin.de Funding amount:$199,406 Find other grantees

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Save the Children Hong Kong

Our grantees Save the Children Hong Kong Protecting children from online grooming: Cross-cultural, qualitative and child-centred data to guide grooming prevention and response Countries involved:Hong Kong Grant timeline:March 2023 – September 2024 Grantee website:savethechildren.org.hk/en Funding amount:$198,600 Find other grantees

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University of Kent 2

Our grantees University of Kent A Serious Game for a Serious Issue: Combatting Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking via a Digital Game Countries involved:Thailand, Cambodia University of Kent will prevent online child sexual exploitation and abuse of children in Thailand and Cambodia by educating them about online child sexual exploitation

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Safe online invests $4 million to generate evidence on tackling online child sexual exploitation and abuse

Safe Online Invests $4 Million to Generate Evidence on Tackling Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

The Safe Online portfolio, which invests in cutting edge solutions and knowledge for the online safety of children, has grown manifold over the last six years and has so far reached $76 million in investments focusing on 95 projects with impact in over 80 countries globally. The current targeted funding round builds on learnings generated during previous rounds and offers a unique opportunity to use results reported by grantees to understand the impact of programmes and tools we are funding, as well as identify lessons from the ground on how the change happens. 

 

From solutions for the tech industry and policies for governments to strengthen online safety to resources and digital platforms that help children stay safe online, this funding round covers a range of diverse and critical projects.  

 

It will enhance the knowledge and evidence base to support the scale-up of tested approaches and solutions and also provide crucial insights to stakeholders in the larger online CSEA ecosystem.

Grantee projects have been selected from existing and previously funded Safe Online projects based on their potential for impact and scale. The additional $1.5M in the next quarter will be invested to evaluate these project interventions with a focus on relevance, effectiveness, scalability and sustainability. Safe Online was supported by the Evaluation Advisory Group in the robust selection process of the projects, who will also be guiding the evaluation design process and reviewing the deliverables throughout the life cycle of the projects. 

"As the only global fund dedicated to tackling online CSEA, Safe Online is a leading contributor of evidence on what works and what doesn't to address digital harms to children. Our selected cohort of grantees and interventions will help us go one step further in that regard and demonstrate what sustainable, scalable and impactful solutions look like in this field."
- Marija Manojlovic, Director, Safe Online
Meet the Grantees

5Rights Foundation 
5Right Foundation’s Child Online Safety Toolkit project aims to create a safer digital environment for children. By providing resources and training based on the toolkit, it seeks to empower countries and organisations to better protect young internet users. It intends to establish an internationally recognised framework for child online safety, fostering a unified and effective approach across different countries and jurisdictions. The toolkit serves as a resource for both civil societies and regulatory bodies worldwide, contributing to policy development and implementation, and the regulation of online child safety. 

 

Council of Europe
EndOCSEA@Europe Plus will build on the results of the previous project phase to strengthen actions to prevent and combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA) across the Council of Europe member states, with particular focus on Georgia, Montenegro and the Republic of Moldova. 

 

DeafKidz International
DeafKidz Defenders is an interactive digital platform designed to educate deaf children on how to stay safe online. This project will empower deaf children in Pakistan, South Africa and Zambia, and increase teachers’ and parents’ knowledge of safeguarding to better protect deaf children from abuse.

 

UNICEF EAPRO
UNICEF EAPRO’s project focuses on continuing momentum for work by being done by UNICEF East Asia and the ASEAN Pacific Regional Office for child online protection. It supports activities like tech industry working groups and a regional forum which will be held in Bangkok in November 2023 to support collaborative efforts that make children’s digital lives safer. Other activities include disseminating and applying detailed technical guidance for legislative reform and support to survivors of online child abuse.

 

UNICEF Ghana
UNICEF Ghana will implement the new project “Protecting children from online sexual exploitation in Ghana: Scale-up of interventions with the biggest potential for impact and evidence generation”. At least 10,000 children are expected to benefit from individual case management, national multi-sectoral and private sector engagement will be enhanced and the capacity of law enforcement, judiciary and prosecutors for effective investigations and successful prosecution of online CSEA will be strengthened. The project aims to scale interventions and generate evidence on the implementation of the Cyber Security Act and the National Child Online Protection Framework, criminal justice and victim support and empowerment, in collaboration with the Cyber Security Authority, the Ghana Police Service, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and other partners. 

 

UNICEF Jordan
This programme supports UNICEF’s work with the Government of Jordan to prevent and respond to online child sexual exploitation and abuse. This includes programmes and policies that strengthen the capacity of the national protection system and raise awareness on keeping children safe online.

 

Tech Matters
Aselo, a contact center platform built by Tech Matters, is live in ten countries. One of the primary goals of Aselo is to increase the capacity of child helplines to meet the needs of much greater numbers of children and young people. The existing technology supported by Safe Online helps to identify repeat callers and texters in most communication channels, so that helpline counsellors can review past contact (and case) records. The new funding will enable Tech Matters to make a minimum set of enhancements to Aselo to significantly expand the capabilities of the helplines to address the issue of repeat callers and allow the helplines to handle a greater volume of actionable calls/texts, maximizing their impact and support for those in need.

 

Thorn
Support from Safe Online has enabled Thorn to accelerate the development of our ‘classifiers’ that use the latest artificial intelligence to identify child sexual abuse material (CSAM) at scale, helping to identify victims faster and stop the viral spread of CSAM. This new funding aims to enhance and scale the CSAM Classifier by 1) deploying the existing CSAM Classifier to leading forensic and victim identification technology platforms that will enable adoption by law enforcement and hotline analysts, and 2) identifying a scalable, consistent feedback mechanism for the CSAM Classifier.

See more of our recent updates

UNICEF Kenya

Our grantees UNICEF Kenya Developing and Implementing a National Plan of Action to Prevent and Respond to Online Child Exploitation and Abuse Countries involved:October 2017 – October 2019 With support from the Fund, UNICEF Kenya enhanced national capacities to prevent and respond to online child abuse and exploitation. The project has improved

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Marie Collins Foundation

Our grantees Marie Collins Foundation The Global Protection Online Network With support from the Fund, the Marie Collins Foundation is rolling out a global online resource, the Global Protection Online Network, to help practitioners improve their service response for victims of online violence. Within this platform, members can access relevant materials, templates

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Thorn 2

Our grantees Thorn Global CSAM Classifier Development Program Countries involved:United States of America Supported by Safe Online’s investments, Thorn has accelerated the development of their artificial intelligence classifiers, which are working to automate the detection of CSAM. Through this project, Thorn aimed to create a global standard for labelling, connecting

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Our purpose in detail

We are here to ensure every child and young person grows in to the digital world feeling safe, and is protected from harm.

We support, champion, and invest in innovative partners from the public, private, and third sectors working towards the same objective.

We believe in equipping guardians and young people with the skills to understand and see danger themselves once accessing digital experiences without supervision.

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