Trigger warning: Some words and images may be disturbing.

COVID-19 lockdowns created a perfect storm
for livestreamed child sexual abuse.


Online sexual exploitation of children

Featured card image

It encompasses a range of crimes, including creating, possessing or distributing child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) like photos and videos.

It also includes the sexual abuse of children by traffickers who livestream the exploitation to satisfy the online demand of child sex offenders paying to direct the abuse in real time.

Today, abusers located anywhere in the world can exploit children without ever leaving their homes.


Children, as young as two months old, are trafficked by trusted parents, relatives, friends, or neighbors


Fueled primarily by demand from foreign sex offenders who are shielded by the virtual world of the internet


Transacted mainstream social media and messaging platforms,
in any location, at any time


This isn't limited to the simple exchange of explicit images.

Girls and boys are forced to perform sex acts on themselves or each other, are molested by an adult, or are exploited in other violent ways.

The crime remains largely undetected and underreported.

A typical case of livestreamed child sexual abuse involves

Child sex traffickers Image
Child sex traffickers

Source-side CSEM producers who abuse children in person for online streaming

Victims in source-side countries Image
Victims in source-side countries

Usually the trafficker's child, nephew, niece, or neighbor

Foreign child sex offenders Image
Foreign child sex offenders

Demand-side offenders who pay for and direct the abuse

*Source: "Online Sexual Exploitation of Children: Analysis and Recommendations for Government, Industry, and Civil Society" (IJM, 2020)