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Afraid, Uncertain, and Overwhelmed: A Survey of Parents on Online Sexual Exploration of Children


Children are in crisis. Online sexual exploitation of children is an urgent and exponentially growing problem. Reports of child sexual abuse images online have tripled in just 5 years – from 10.2 million in 20171 to 29.3 million in 2021. It’s not just images. We are at a crisis point for all types of child sexual exploitation. Last year was the worst year on record for online sexually explicit requests and sexual abuse cases, and the FBI has warned of an unprecedented surge in sextortion – when predators use sexual images to blackmail children for money or more images. Recent research shows 1 in 3 children can now expect to have an unwelcome sexual experience online before they turn 18. Despite the bad and worsening risks of online sexual exploitation, 97% of children use social media and the internet every day, and 1 in 5 use it “almost constantly.” Parents often don’t know the risks, feel unable to prevent their children from using social media, or don’t know what steps they can take to make platforms safer to use.

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