Stopping The Live Streaming Abuse of Children
By: Glen Pounder, COO Child Rescue Coalition
Many of us use video platforms for business meetings or to catch up with friends and family. Did you know that these common tools are also used, on a daily basis, for “Live Streaming Abuse” or “Online Child Sexual Exploitation”?
What these terms really describe is the trafficking of children for payment online. While this will not be easy to read, we believe people want to know the reality because without it, there is no true way to understand how to solve this problem.
No organization can claim to know the true number of offenders committing this terrible crime. CRC’s work with law enforcement tells us that, at least, tens of thousands of pedophiles are actively engaged in paying money to view the sexual abuse of children live online.
Some organizations have described this crime as “the selling of children for sex”. This description is inaccurate because a criminal who pays for and directs the sexual abuse of a child, is paying for the RAPE of that child for their own sexual gratification.
How Live Streaming Abuse Happens
The transaction is arranged when a predator “meets” online with a trafficker who is offering a child for sexual abuse. It is often conducted using well-known US-based technology platforms. Here is an example of the communication:
Typically, there is no recording made of this abuse and the victim can be raped 10, 20, or even more times in a single day. Before the rape starts the child is forced to smile and even wave at the unknown buyer who is often many thousands of miles away.
The child’s eyes are often completely devoid of life and hope, eyes which have seen and experienced horrors which a person who lived to 300 should never see. Eyes which – when we look into our own children’s eyes and see their “spark” and their happiness – we know just don’t belong in a child’s face.
Once the buyer agrees, a payment is made via well-known financial platforms which make it quick and easy. Often the charge to rape a child is only $20 or $30. Not in “Bitcoin” or some crypto currency, always on a platform which allows the trafficker to quickly withdraw currency on a street corner in their own country.
Then the unthinkable happens. The buyer proceeds to direct the rape of the child, describing what he (almost always a “he”) wants the rapist to do.
“The buyers” of course have their other lives – often in well paying jobs, even in positions of authority and trust – paying for this abuse from relatively rich western countries. On the other side of the transaction are “The sellers” or traffickers, who are trading their own and other people’s children in a constant online feed of human misery.
How is Child Rescue Coalition Fighting to Stop Live Streaming Abuse?
This heinous crime must be tackled from both the buyer and trafficker side of the transaction. At Child Rescue Coalition, we are working directly with investigators who are dealing with this crime type on a daily basis. Their work is incredibly challenging and we feel honored to partner with them; providing new cutting-edge technology which they are helping design.
Our new technology is focused on helping investigators process of tens of thousands of lines of data from multiple sources and in multiple formats. This allows them to “see” the suspects and to do their job – investigate the criminals and rescue the children – not spend their valuable time trying to make sense of numerous spreadsheets and images.
Already this new work is beginning to make an impact. It’s leading to the arrest of offenders who believed their activity to be impossible to trace, and to the direct rescue of children in countries like the Philippines, where in some locations a dozen or more children are found in just one operation.
Why Should You Care?
The live streaming of children being raped is not just happening in countries far from you, it is happening right here in the United States. We know that as many as 90 percent of children are abused by someone they know, often even a family member. These “live streaming” criminals are not always strangers – they live among us. They may be sexually abusing their own or other children they know. What if they are grooming your child and coercing or paying them to share images of themselves? There is a continual need to educate yourselves and your children about online safety practices.
What Can You Do?
We’re in the fight. How about you? Become a donor to Child Rescue Coalition so we can continue to develop technology, train officers, and save children from abuse.