Collective Shout evidence on child sexual exploitation cited in Federal committee inquiry report

In our 2021 Submission on Law Enforcement Capabilities in Relation to child exploitation we highlighted our decade of work to combat child sexual exploitation. We provided evidence to the Parliamentary joint Committee on Law Enforcement on Live Distant Child Abuse, sexting, self-generated child sexual abuse material, weak sentencing for perpetrators of child exploitation crimes, and the need for a fast-tracked age verification system to help protect children from exposure to pornography.

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The Committee's report was released in November. We were encouraged to see that our submission had been cited a number of times. You can find these extracts on the failures of self-regulation, the inadequacy of offenders sentences, ‘self-generated’ child sexual abuse material (CSAM), the overlap of contact and non-contact offending and the role of mainstream pornography in fuelling demands for CSAM below.

Self-generated material and ‘sexting’

Collective Shout expressed concern that '[l]arge numbers of children are producing sexualised images of themselves, which can be shared widely or harvested and redistributed by those with a sexual interest in children'. It submitted that children producing and distributing sexualised images of themselves puts them 'at significant risk'. It recommended that 'Government should make available support and interventions for children and adolescents engaged in this activity', as well as education campaigns demonstrating that 'self-generating sexualised images is harmful for children and adolescents'. (3.40, Chapter Three.)

Appropriateness of sentences and penalties

Some inquiry participants expressed concern that sentences handed down for CAM offences do not properly reflect the seriousness of the crime or provide adequate deterrent. For example, Collective Shout submitted that there is:

…a disturbing trend of lower sentences for online offenders in demand-side countries who direct and cause live sexual abuse or exploitation by instructing and paying in-person offenders to violate children, relative to the offenders committing the 'in-person' contact abuse. (3.58, Chapter Three.)

Kids exposure to porn and the normalisation of child sexual abuse

Collective Shout expressed concern about children being exposed to online pornography and submitted that it has 'long highlighted the links between pornography and the normalisation of child sexual abuse'. It recommended that the federal government 'fast-track an age-verification system' and noted legislative developments on this topic in Canada and Germany. Collective Shout advanced:

Data indicates that there is growing interest in CSAM. It is driven by exposure to extreme porn, and may be triggered by accidental exposure to it, more powerful even than pathological motivations or drivers such as sexual urges (although convicted CSAM offenders do exhibit high rates of paedophilic interests). Child abuse expert Michael Sheath believes he is seeing "a dangerous cultural shift in the profile of offenders, brought about by the enormous change that increasingly extreme pornography is having on the developing teenage mind." Almost half of the 3,035 offenders in the criminal justice system for possessing CSAM (in Queensland, 2018) were themselves children under the age of 17. (5.35, Chapter Five.)

The failures of self-regulation

Collective Shout called self-regulation 'a failed experiment' and stated that there is a 'general failure of corporates to prioritise child safety over profit under self‑regulation'. It advanced:

It is unreasonable for wealthy and well-resourced tech companies to place the onus of monitoring and reporting child exploitation and predatory activity on their platforms on citizens like ourselves. State parties globally should implement uniform regulations to prevent and penalise Big Tech companies which continue to profit from the trade in child exploitation. (5.129, Chapter Five.)

Forms of overlap between contact and non-contact offending

Submitters highlighted various ways in which CAM offending overlaps with, or can encourage, contact offending. For example, Collective Shout referred to the influence of online CAM networks when positing that there is 'a direct link between viewing abuse images and contact abuse, as well as offenders using the dark web and encryption to hide their activity and identities', with the link being that 'members must produce new material to have access to the group'. (6.32, Chapter Six.)

Collective Shout also pointed out that '[f]or contact offenders, CSAM is central to the grooming process, engendering a bond with the victim, demonstrating that there is nothing wrong or unnatural about sex acts, and providing material to potentially blackmail the victim'. (6.37, Chapter Six.)

Read the full report here. 

Read our submission here.

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  • Caitlin Roper
    published this page in News 2024-01-22 17:21:55 +1100

You can defend their right to childhood

A world free of sexploitation is possible!

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