With the rapid spread of the coronavirus, we are working to keep our communities safe and healthy. Efforts to contain the virus by closing schools and public gathering sites have led to dramatic increases in unsupervised children, increasing concerns about their safety. As educators and families are turning to technology to remain connected, the opportunities to exploit children through personal devices, laptops and video gaming have exploded.
Safety means more than hand washing.
Research has shown that, in times of crisis, the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children skyrockets. While we can’t fully understand right now how the spread of COVID-19 will impact our communities, the patterns from other disease outbreaks point to risks for abuse: loss of income, isolation from school and other social supports, disruption in normal daily routines and deep stigma for those infected. And while sex traffickers won’t tell us if they expect more business during a period of “social distancing,” there are already an alarming number of reports that the commercial sex industry is gearing up to produce more “adult” online content. That “adult” content, however, increasingly includes images of sexually abused children.
During this pandemic, ECPAT-USA wants to help ensure that safety not only means being free from exposure to the novel coronavirus – it also means being free from sexual exploitation.
Read the full guides here.