Our modern day lives have largely shifted to networks, and the criminals have done the same. Facebook, Momio, Tiktok, Brawl Stars etc. are part of our children’s everyday life, but many of us parents don’t know them at all. Online interaction is different from face to face interaction, because in the online world you can also operate anonymously. It is a different world where everything is not what it looks like, which we must not forget.
Our children are exposed to many risks when they are online: grooming, sex dating, pornography, sexual coercion and extortion, bullying etc. As parents we should know what our children are doing online, which online platforms, games and websites they are using and we should make sure that those pages, games and so on are age appropriate. We also need to talk to our children about platforms and online safety and make sure that our children’s profiles on online platforms are private and restrict the use of web cameras.
This is important, because in the year 2019 the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) received 16,9 million reports about child sexual abuse material online platforms. The number of reports has grown also here in Finland. In the year 2016 Finland received about 1000 reports, while the number last year was 5000.
The technology gives us many good and useful opportunities, but it also has a flip side – child sexual exploitations are a growing type of crime. The number of victims of online child sexual abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic has grown worldwide, also here in Finland. Save the Children organization reported that the number of online tips per week has doubled, or even more, during this Covid-19 pandemic in Finland. Child sexual exploitation is a hidden crime, so we can’t really know, what is the real number of victims. But we have to remember that in every video and picture, there is a real child, who is a target of sexual exploitation.
The United States Department of Justice recently shut down one pedophilic group of 432.000 members. The number of members was huge, but this is not even the whole scary truth about the number of people who are interested in children in a sexual sense. The whole world has taken a digital leap, which is also visible in the rising amount of these kind of crimes.
The Finnish legislation concerning the CAM material is from a time before social media. We need to improve the criminal protection of our children as soon as possible. We have to update our legislation to modern times, because Finland has to be a safe country also in the web.
Pihla Keto-Huovinen - MP
Pihla Keto-Huovinen is a Finnish politician currently serving in the Parliament of Finland for the National Coalition Party at the Uusimaa constituency.
This article was written for MP Talk, a regular column from the Helsinki Times in which Members of The Finnish Parliament contribute their thoughts and opinions. All opinions voiced are entirely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Helsinki Times.
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