More Than 300 Million Children Fall Victim to Online Sexual Abuse Annually: Study

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A shocking study from the University of Edinburgh has revealed a startling statistic: over 300 million children globally are subjected to some form of online sexual abuse each year. This alarming figure represents approximately 12.6% of the world’s child population, signaling a widespread crisis in online safety.

The research, part of the university’s Childlight initiative, indicated that children are not only exposed to inappropriate content but are also victims of online solicitation and exploitation. Common forms of abuse include non-consensual sharing of explicit images, sextortion, and the misuse of AI technologies to create and distribute abusive content.

The study also highlights the significant number of potential and self-admitted offenders, particularly in the United States, which was identified as a high-risk area. Surveys conducted as part of the study showed that approximately 14 million American men have admitted that they would offend against children if they could without getting caught.

Childlight chief executive Paul Stanfield emphasized the scale of the problem, saying the number of offenders in the UK alone would make a line that could stretch from Glasgow to London. He described the situation as a “global health pandemic” that has remained under the radar for too long.

Experts are calling for urgent action to address what they describe as a public health crisis, advocating for a coordinated global response. Enhanced training for investigators, improved data sharing, and stringent regulatory measures on tech platforms are among the suggested strategies to combat this pervasive issue.

The findings underscore the urgent need for robust measures to protect children in the digital age, ensuring their safety and well-being amidst the growing challenges posed by online environments.

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