Online child sexual exploitation is a serious new concern that requires stakeholders to work together to prevent it and protect children, said a senior Cambodian National Council for Children (CNCC) official.
Sorn Sabon, deputy head of the General Secretariat of the CNCC, made the remarks during a meeting organized to disseminate a new study, “Stopping such incidents in Cambodia – evidence of online child sexual exploitation and abuse “, which will be officially announced on September 30.
“Online child exploitation is a global problem that comes in many forms. This requires all stakeholders – including the public, guardians of children, authorities and civil society organizations – to work together to protect children from such abuse,” she said.
She pointed out that the techniques employed by the perpetrators are becoming increasingly complicated and advanced, and require the cooperation of all parties involved to combat. The sexual exploitation of children has serious physical and psychological consequences.
“Most child victims find it difficult to trust others and suffer from despair, loneliness, confusion, frustration, guilt and fear. The magnitude of the impact of the rehabilitation process on children requires both emotional and physical support from parents, guardians, professionals and their communities,” she added.
She said that in addition to these needs, children also need to benefit from legal justice as part of a smooth and speedy rehabilitation process.
According to a September 29 press release, the CNCC, UNICEF Cambodia and EPACT International through APLE Cambodia shared the report with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans Affairs and Youth Rehabilitation.
Foroogh Foyouzat, UNICEF Representative in Cambodia, said the results clearly show the extent of the risk children face online in the digital world, with 11% of children aged 12-17 using the internet reporting having encountered clear examples of online sexual exploitation and abuse in the years preceding the investigation.
“16% of children have suffered from sexual expressions, mainly on social networks. 16% of children received unwanted sexual images and 9% were asked to share sexual images,” she said.
Khieu Borey, State Secretary of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Chairman of the CNCC, said online abuse is a global problem.
She said the world was paying close attention and working together to prevent and respond to abuse in the context of information technology. Cambodia is a nation stepping forward to help improve child protection and ensure the best interests of children – in the Kingdom, as well as around the world.
“The fourth phase of the rectangular strategy encouraged the allocation of additional resources to education, health, social affairs and other areas. Child development is a priority in strengthening human resources for national development and the achievement of the Kingdom’s Sustainable Development Goals 2016-2030,” she added.
“Cambodia is ready to participate in the Industrial Revolution 4.0, focusing on the technology sector that the world uses as a medium for effective political, economic and social sectors,” she continued.
The report provided recommendations to promote child online protection.
These recommendations include strengthening legal frameworks, building capacity to respond to online child sexual exploitation by all stakeholders across the country, and improving national and international cooperation.
“We need to work – especially with the private sector – to strengthen response and support mechanisms for victims. We should focus on child-friendly practices that meet international standards, establish an easy-to-use national reporting mechanism, and increase resources,” the press release read.
Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Chea Vandeth, said in late June that considerations of protecting children online are important for Cambodian society today and in the future.
“In the context of the Covid-19 epidemic and the closure of schools, more than 3 million Cambodian children have needed to use online systems to learn, be entertained and communicate. The threat of online abuse, such as threats and child sexual abuse, is alarming and requires immediate response and the implementation of long-term prevention strategies,” he said.
According to recent data from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in the United States, the number of reported cases of online child sexual abuse in 2021 increased by 35% compared to the previous year.