The fight against child sexual abuse – launch of the ARICA project

Despite the increasing efforts of law enforcement agencies (LEAs), the number of reported cases of child sexual abuse is still increasing. Statistics like these are alarming, but efforts to reverse the trend are intensifying.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), an American NGO, has prepared the 2021 CyberTip report. It shows that the NCMEC received 29.3 million reports of suspected child sexual abuse that year. This was an increase of almost 8 million (35%!) applications since 2020, with predictions that this number will increase further in 2022.

As many as 99% of reports concerned child sexual abuse material, i.e. photos and video recordings. These reports were then processed to identify victims and help law enforcement agencies around the world protect children and help survivors rebuild their lives.

The European contribution

Many initiatives to combat child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSAE) are currently being developed in Europe. The European Commission distributes grants to Member States and research programmes that can help build a safer Europe, especially for children. The Polish Platform for Homeland Security (PPHS) has just joined another project in this area.

The ARICA project (Assessing Risk Indicators of child Sexual Abuse) is being implemented by a consortium of research institutions, technology companies, and law enforcement agencies from eight European countries. It develops a program to identify risks that pose an imminent danger to children and society.

The project aims to support law enforcement agencies in the fight against child sexual abuse. It develops technologies that will enhance the capabilities of LEAs to investigate online child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Once the project is completed, these technologies will remain free for law enforcement.

PPHS is responsible for the communication and dissemination of results, which is crucial for the developed tools to be used in institutions protecting children from sexual abuse, and for practitioners to be fully trained in their use.

More information about ARICA is available here.

CSAE is a complex topic that needs addressing from various angles. Prevention provides many opportunities to counter the challenges societies face and we are proud to add, that PPHS is contributing to another project from this area as coordinator. The 2PS project (Protect and Prevent Through Support) fights against the child sexual abuse and exploitation by increasing prevention actions. More about it is available here.

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This project is funded by the European Union's Internal Security Fund - Police.  Under Grant Agreement 101084525