Projects’ results are expected to contribute to some or all of the following outcomes:
- Increased understanding of security practitioners and policy-makers of the prevalence and of the process leading to child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation;
- Enhanced understanding of the characteristics and key differences between offending and non-offending Minor Attracted Persons;
- Innovative and effective solutions, including training curricula, are validated and adopted by European Police Authorities and relevant Civil Society Organisations to prevent, detect and effectively act on child sexual exploitation, both offline and online, by providing necessary assistance to potential offenders, as well as by providing adequate preventative campaigns to reach vulnerable groups;
- Developed cross-culturally validated risk assessment tools for child sexual offenders; Enhanced perception by the citizens that Europe is an area of freedom, justice and security thanks to increased security of children;
- Improved cooperation between European Police Authorities and relevant Civil Society Organisations in preventing this form of crime, taking into account fundamental rights;
- Improved evidence-based policy-making related to the prevention of child sexual exploitation.
Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), including the increasing amount of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) detected online as well as the online solicitation of children for sexual purposes, remains a serious threat. During the first wave of the global pandemic of COVID-19, there was an increased online activity in dedicated forums by offenders exploiting opportunities to engage with children who were more vulnerable due to isolation, greater online exposure and less supervision. This further highlighted the importance of CSE prevention, early detection and effective actions, both online and offline. Research is needed to better understand the process leading to offending in all its various forms (e.g. from watching CSAM to sexually abusing a child), i.e. what triggers the behaviour of potential offenders, which approaches in addressing their behaviour work and which not, which profiles of offenders can be generated, etc.
Research is also needed to provide a deeper understanding of the prevalence of these crimes as well as the prevalence of persons with a sexual interest in children. Early or weak signals should be further researched in combination with effective countermeasures and interventions. The solutions should be accompanied by corresponding training curricula for Police Authorities and Civil Society Organisations when necessary (e.g. when they involve providing assistance to potential offenders or victims). Methods for evaluating proposed solutions should be developed as well. Special care needs to be given to ethics and fundamental rights protection throughout the research and the solutions proposed. The evolving character of the CSE modus operandi should be taken into account in all activities proposed under this topic. The societal dimension should be in the core of proposed activities. In addition to the mandatory involvement of Police Authorities, the involvement of other relevant practitioners in the consortia – e.g. from Civil Society Organisations, health professionals (psychologists, psychiatrics…), forensic psychologists, criminologists and sociologists – is strongly encouraged as well. As such, this topic requires the effective contribution of SSH disciplines and the involvement of SSH experts, institutions as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH expertise, in order to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related research activities. The testing and/or piloting of the tools and solutions developed in a real setting with one or more Police Authorities and other relevant authorities is an asset; regardless, actions should foresee how they will facilitate the uptake, replication across setting and up-scaling of the capabilities – i.e. solutions, tools, processes et al. – to be developed by the project.
23 November 2021