Sex offenders reveal in which applications they stalk children

More than 30,000 people have responded to a survey related to the recent study, who are looking for footage of sexual violence against children online and have themselves contacted the children after watching the footage.

Technology waste is required to take stronger measures than before to eradicate sexual violence against children. An illustration and a staged situation. The people in the picture are not related to the story. Adobe Stock / AOP

Suojellan lapsia ry has published research information on which online platforms sex offenders use to commit sexual crimes against children. The results were also published in the European Parliament on Tuesday.

More than 30,000 active online offenders have answered the international online survey, which has been open since 2020, of which 40 percent have sought contact with children through technology platforms.

According to the association, the research provides extremely important information for the prevention of sexual crimes against children online or that start there.

The research report states that in 2023, a total of 36.2 million reports of sexual violence against children were made online to the American National Center for Missing and Exploited Children organization alone. According to the study, illegal material can be found using common search engines with just a few clicks.

Sex offenders say they use these social networks and applications

The study revealed that as many as 40 percent of those who have watched sexual violence against children contact children themselves after watching illegal material.

Of the perpetrators who sought contact with the child, 70 percent said that they especially use social media, online game platforms and encrypted communication applications. Instagram, Facebook and Discord stood out among the social media platforms used, and Telegram, Whatsapp and Signal were among the messaging apps.

Private and so-called end-to-end encrypted messaging applications enable criminal activity without the risk of being caught or being monitored by the authorities.

Illegal material also outside the dark web

According to the Protecting the Children association, the research results clearly show that illegal footage can be found on social media as well as on adult entertainment websites.

Although illegal material is often associated with the dark web, almost 80 percent of the criminals who took part in the study said that they use material on the open web.

– The easy availability of illegal footage in popular social media applications is alarming and requires quick action, stresses the executive director of Suojellan lapsia ry, special expert and Psychotherapist in the press release Nina Vaaranen-Valkonen.

Suojellan lapsia ry also published recommendations for technology companies to prevent sexual crimes against children:

  • Consideration of children’s rights in the development of technology platforms.
  • Security instructions for online platforms should be more accessible.
  • Technology companies must speed up the detection and removal of illegal images targeting children.
  • Targeted warning messages for perpetrators of sexual crimes against children and more effective treatment guidance.
  • The age limit control of online platforms must be strengthened.

Source: Protect children association

Maria Rossi, a criminal police constable of the Central Criminal Police, talks about the sexual abuse of children as a phenomenon.