While the Internet and advances in technology over the past few decades have allowed us to create many amazing things, they have also introduced a new threat and dimension to crimes against children. The Internet makes content and abuse easier to identify and participate in; like-minded individuals can create communities to justify their actions; digital imagery and videos allow abuse to be shared globally at the push of a button; and private and encrypted networks protect individuals that participate in the most egregious types of abuse.
Our stats explained
A large part of our work comes from informed research collected in the field, which helps our team, along with our many partners, remain on the cutting edge of technology. Sometimes we conduct primary research and bring new information to field, such as establishing that 63% of child sex trafficking victims (we surveyed) were advertised online, and 42% of sextortion victims met perpetrators online.
We also recognize that we can’t tackle every research question and so we rely on outside research and statistics to better understand the scope of the problem. We keep in mind that this is a tough space to measure. Available estimates have limitations and should be used with care. Specifically, the number of at-risk children is difficult to know with any certainty as reported cases are lower than total cases.
What is child pornography?
Section 2256 of Title 18, United States Code, defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age). Visual depictions include photographs, videos, digital or computer generated images indistinguishable from an actual minor. Electronically stored data that can be converted into a visual image of child pornography is also deemed illegal under federal law. Furthermore, Federal law prohibits the production, distribution, reception and possession of an image of child pornography, whereupon violation of this law is a felony, and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison (United States Department of Justice).
What is child sexual abuse imagery?
Another word for child pornography, “child sexual abuse imagery” is the term that those working to put an end to this horrific crime have begun using instead of child pornography. Child sexual abuse imagery is a more widely encompassing term, which refers to content that depicts sexually explicit activities involving a child. Child sexual abuse images and videos are most often documented with the purpose of being shared widely for others to watch, and in so doing, victimizes the child many times over.
What is sextortion?
Sextortion is a form of sexual exploitation where one individual threatens to reveal sexually explicit images of another person unless that person meets specific demands. The perpetrator may have obtained the images in multiple ways. They may have hacked a device, or recorded an image without consent. In some cases, the image may have been shared consensually. Regardless of how the image was obtained, if the sharing of that image is not consensual, the perpetrator is engaging in an act of abuse by using intimate images to exploit the victim.
What is live-streaming child abuse?
Live-streaming child abuse refers to instances where individuals pay to watch the live abuse of a child via a video streaming service. This type of abuse is incredibly difficult to detect, due to its real-time nature and the lack of digital evidence left behind after the crime.
What is domestic minor sex trafficking?
Domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) is the commercial sexual exploitation and child abuse of children within U.S. borders. It is defined as the “recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act” in which the person is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident under the age of 18 years. At any given time, there are between 100,000 and 300,000 children in the US alone at risk for commercial sexual exploitation. These children are being coerced and/or forced into situations in which they’re being exploited sexually against their will.
What is the role of technology in domestic minor sex trafficking?
The Internet houses the largest marketplace for buying and selling children in this country. Online classified sites and escort pages have become a virtual marketplace where these children are bought and sold. There are over 100,000 escort ads posted in the United States every day. Based on our survey of minor sex trafficking victims, there are ads within this group that represent children. 63% of underage survivors said they had been advertised online at some point during their trafficking situation.