Sexual violence on children has prolonged and frightful effects throughout their lives. The amount of material on the Internet showing children in sexual circumstances and/or as subjects of sexual violence has increased considerably. The production, possession, circulation and viewing of such material is illegal. It is urgent to eliminate the production and distribution of such material, identify the victims and come to their aid. International cooperation is an essential part of the process.
Report Button - Safer Internet
Since 2001 Save the Children Iceland has participated in an international project on the Protection of Children against Sexual Violence on the Internet. The project has received funding from the EU's Safer Internet program. The purpose of this project is to heighten the awareness of the general public, police authorities, the legislator, Internet service providers, the authorities for child protection and other parties of the part the Internet plays in sexual violence against children. The aim is also to encourage the Icelandic authorities to accept responsibility in this matter both in Iceland and internationally.
The Hotline is the core of the project. A Report button is located on the organisation’s website enabling individuals concerned to send in anonymous reports pointing out illegal and improper material on the Internet. Until 2009 the employees of Save the Children Iceland were responsible for analysing reports received, following their path and forwarding the results to the police authorities. Many reports included hints about crimes committed against children. On request by the association The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police took over that part of the project. Save the Children Iceland meets regularly with representatives of The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police discussing matters of the Hotline.
Over 4,000 reports have been received through the Report button since 2001. In 34% of the cases children are victims of sexual violence and are shown in sexual circumstances. In addition, the association receives reports by telephone or e-mail, including reports concerning Icelandic websites with material showing children in sexual circumstances or material with speech of sexual nature about children and teenagers. In these cases the rights of children are being violated, considering how the material was graphically and verbally presented. The project has received funding from Landsbanki and the Shopping Bag Fund.
Save the Children Iceland is a member of the international association INHOPE, www.inhope.org, which acts as an umbrella organisation for Hotlines. Hotlines under the auspices of INHOPE are growing in numbers every year, totalling at present 41 in 36 countries. Most of them are operated in Europe, but also in America, Australia and Asia. INHOPE acts mainly in order to gain knowledge and share experience on the matter and to support its members in their struggle. Every Hotline is operated in cooperation with police authorities and Internet service providers in each country. Each Hotline enters statistical information into INHOPE’s database. In this way it is possible to monitor the number of reports and the outcome of the fight against sexual violence against children on the Internet. INHOPE received 50 thousand reports in 2011 from 175 countries.
In recent years Save the Children Iceland has made an effort to introduce filtration of illegal material on the Internet at national level. This includes material showing children in sexual circumstances so that there will be no access to such material in Iceland. The association has met with Internet service providers, The Post and Telecom Administration in Iceland, The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, and representatives of the Ministry of the Interior to discuss the matter.
SAFT - Society, Family and Technology
A new agreement with the European Union came into force in 2011. It covers for example combined efforts of Save the Children Iceland, Home and School, and The Directorate of Health under the auspices of Safer Internet Center. The agreement secures the partnership of Save the Children Iceland to the SAFT-project. SAFT stands for Society, Family and Technology and is an awakening campaign for safe use of technology for children and teenagers in Iceland. SAFT’s public-opinion polling amongst parents reveals that 66% of parents are of the opinion that they need more information about security on the Internet and 74% think it is urgent to be able to get advice on technical, educational and legal matters in one place when it comes to safe use of the Internet. SAFT operates in collaboration with The Post and Telecom Administration in Iceland. The general public can make inquiries on www.netsvar.is about everything related to safe use of the Internet and will receive expert response. The website contains a wide spectrum of information on the Net and its safe use. The aim of the site is also to support positive and pleasant use of the Internet.
Identifying and Helping Victims
Save the Children Iceland works closely with the European Association – Save the Children in various policy areas. This includes identifying child victims of sexual abuse from graphic images distributed on the Internet. Interpol’s data basis, which has been in use since 2001, contains one million images showing sexual violence against over 20 000 children. According to information provided by Interpol only about 800 of these children have been identified and have received necessary support.
It is essential that children who have become victims of sexual violence get aid. This especially applies where pictures of the victims being abused have been distributed. Save the Children Iceland works closely with The European Association - Save the Children towards improving the situation of children who have become victims of sexual violence on the Internet. Representatives of the Association took radical measures in order to secure that the new Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse would contain provisions obliging every State Party to take necessary measures to identify the children. They should also secure that they receive appropriate support and actions to be co-ordinated at an international level.
Grooming refers to the act of an adult contacting a child on the Internet with the aim to build up trust, confidentiality and friendship in the child. This may be done by praising and caring. The Individual concerned may also try to make the child distrustful of its family. The adult may often give a false impression of him/herself and imply that he/she is a child or a teenager. He or she may then offend the child with pornographic and sexual talk and act, demanding the child to act in a sexual manner. This can be done through a web camera or by setting up a meeting with the child. This may have serious consequences. It is important to understand that pictures taken with web cameras and distributed on the Net are almost impossible to eliminate.
SAFTS’s homepage includes the so called security commandments – a guidance for children and parents on the Internet.