17 November 2015 – Leading technology companies, governments and international organizations have committed to protecting millions of children from online sexual exploitation at the #WeProtect Children Online Global Summit hosted by the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom in Abu Dhabi, said Unicef.  

Governments in every region of the world have agreed to establish coordinated national responses between criminal justice systems, law enforcement agencies, frontline social service providers and education sectors to better protect children online. Leading information technology companies including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo have also pledged to keep children safe by developing new technology, tools and expertise.

Research shows high levels of sexual exploitation of children online. Interpol and police partners help identify an average of five child victims of online sexual abuse every day. The number of webpages containing child sexual abuse material grew by 147 per cent from 2012 to 2014, with girls and children 10 years old or younger depicted in 80 per cent of these materials.  

“Children make up one-third of all Internet users globally. With the rapid expansion of communication technologies shrinking the digital divide, protecting children online is an urgent global priority,” said Unicef Deputy Executive Director Fatoumata Ndiaye.  “Today’s commitments indicate strong political will from every region of the world and we encourage more countries to join this important global movement.”

Today’s Summit follows the first #WeProtect event last year where the UK Government committed £50 million to establish a Global Fund to End Violence against Children. An initial £10 million is supporting Unicef’s ground-breaking global programme to protect children from online sexual exploitation in 17 countries and 6 regions around the world. 

Progress so far includes;

  • Dismantling two networks that produced online child sexual abuse materials through support provided to the Cybercrime Investigation Unit and the National Prosecutor’s Office in Guatemala. 
  • Undertaking a national study on online child protection that will help improve support services for victims in the Philippines. 
  • In Jordan a newly established police unit on online crimes against children is receiving specialized training and children are being educated on identifying risks of online exploitation and abuse; how to protect themselves; and how to report these crimes.

“What happens in the online world is a reflection of society at large, as the dangers children face online are mirrored in the risks children face in their homes, schools and communities,” says Ndiaye.  “Protecting children online is part of a growing global movement to keep children safe from violence, abuse and exploitation in virtual and physical life-settings everywhere.”  


Notes for Editors:

Access the list of national governments, private sector companies and civil society organizations that have signed the #WeProtect Abu Dhabi Statement of Action here: http://bit.ly/1l35UPl

The 17 countries in the Unicef Global Programme to protect children from online sexual exploitation of children are; Albania, Algeria, Brazil, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Montenegro, Namibia, Paraguay, the Philippines, Serbia, Uganda, Vietnam.

For further information please contact the Unicef UK Press Office on +44 (0)20 7375 6030 or media@unicef.org.uk

About Unicef 

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children.  As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK. For more information please visit unicef.org.uk