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Lincoln Academic Contributes to International Report into How to Prevent Child Sexual Offending Online
Published: 25th June 2019, 4:00pm
Lincoln Academic Contributes to International Report into How to Prevent Child Sexual Offending Onli A new report involving over 2,000 experts in online child sex offending has made strong recommendations on how to better prevent the growing problem of child sexual offending on the internet.

The report, put together by the International Working Group for the Prevention of Online Sex Offending (IWG_OSO), features input from the National Crime Agency, the NSPCC, the University of Plymouth and the University of Lincoln.

It highlights that more public engagement is needed to raise awareness of online sexual offending behaviour, along with closer collaboration between behavioural experts and the online industry, a better balance between punishment and early intervention with potential offenders, and increased primary prevention addressing the underlying causes of offending.

The recommendations come amid the group’s concerns about ‘epidemic levels’ of child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) online.

The number of UK-related case referrals received by the National Crime Agency from the online industry almost trebled between 2016 and 2019 (113,948 reports in 2018 compared with 43,072 in 2016).

In the year 2018 alone, the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received 18.4 million referrals of suspected online child sex offending cases from around the world.

The report, entitled Best Practice in the Management of Online Sex Offending, was officially launched on Friday 21 June at the NSPCC headquarters in London.

Report co-author Dr Maggie Brennan, Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Plymouth, said: “Online child sexual offending is now endemic in our society. It is marring the lives of children, families and communities – as well as those with a sexual interest in children who could be prevented from committing an offence against a child.

“In order to meaningfully protect children and society from online child sex offending, we urgently need to step up our efforts to stop offending behaviour before it starts – we need to focus on ways to better prevent this crime. Our report highlights a series of strategies to achieve better prevention of online child sexual offending behaviour, which have been developed in consultation with approximately 2,000 international experts in the area.”

Hannah Merdian, Principle Lecturer at the University of Lincoln’s School of Psychology, who co-authored the report said: “This report culminates a five-year engagement process with the community. It shows that while there is still lots to do, great examples of interdisciplinary working are developing - all working towards the joint goal of eliminating child sexual abuse, online and elsewhere."

The full report can be accessed here: https://pearl.plymouth.ac.uk/handle/10026.1/14331
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