Online Safety for Children More Imperative Than Ever

Quang Binh province launches community-based project to support children experiencing violence and abuse in cyberspace.

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Building on an ongoing Plan International Vietnam-led project with Departmentsof Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs to prevent online violence against children in ethnic minority communities of Quang Binh and Kon Tum provinces, the project “Community-based Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA) Survivor Support Model (CBOCSS)” focuses on addressing the identified gaps in the child protection system to respond to Online child sexual exploitation and abuse (Online CSEA).

By working with adolescents, schools, parents and service providers, the project will set up an innovative community-based survivor support model that will facilitate and increase the reporting of OCSEA and strengthen the quality of services for survivors.

 Adolescents aged 10-18 years, particularly girls and adolescents from ethnic minorities, access age and gender responsive, survivor-centred cross-sectoral support for OCSEA through a community-based pilot model.
Adolescents aged 10-18 years, particularly girls and adolescents from ethnic minorities, access age and gender-responsive, survivor-centred cross-sectoral support for OCSEA through a community-based pilot model. Source: Quang Binh newspaper

Plan International Vietnam and Quang Binh Province’s Department of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs recently co-hosted a ceremony to launch the project “Community-based Online CSEA Survivor Support Model (CBOCSS)” and received consultation from interested parties to construct a cooperation mechanism among schools, communities and service providers to address real-life cases.

This project is implemented between 2022-2025 with the aim to support adolescents aged 10-18 years, particularly girls and adolescents from ethnic minorities, to access age and gender-responsive, survivor-centred cross-sectoral support for OCSEA through a community-based pilot model.

To achieve this goal, the project will implement activities, such as organizing training for local support staff and teachers on online child abuse and exploitation, and other provincial mechanisms referral by national child sexual abuse and exploitation specialists; consult with representatives of children’s organizations, parents, caretakers, teachers, community members and establish a community-based model of support for victims of cyber abuse.

The project will also organize activities to establish a monitoring system, support schools and communities to improve their knowledge and skills on online child sexual abuse prevention and provide training on transfer mechanisms for students; raise public awareness, and transform gender stereotypes at commune, district and provincial levels.

The model is piloted in Kim Thuy commune (Le Thuy district), Truong Son commune (Quang Ninh district), Thuong Hoa commune (Minh Hoa district) of Quang Binh province and Dak Koi communes, Dak Pne communes, Dak To Re communes (Kon Ray district), Kon Tum province.

The model is sponsored by End Violence Partnership and Plan International Belgium.

Online CSEA is a rapidly growing global threat. Latest data from the Internet Watch Foundation reports a tenfold increase in child sexual abuse material online since the Covid-19 pandemic. Data from the End Violence funded multi-country Disrupting Harm project shows that up to 20% of 12–17-year-olds across 13 countries were subjected to online sexual exploitation and abuse in the past year alone.

Online CSEA can take many forms and includes production and sharing of child sexual abuse material or any content that depicts sexually explicit activities involving a child. This may include photos, videos, and digital images which are then used for self-pleasure and/or shared more widely on the internet, victimising the child even further.

Live streaming of abuse is a particularly egregious form of online CSEA – it involves viewing of sexual abuse of children on the internet, in real time or children being coerced into performing sexually explicit acts in front of a webcam. Live streaming of child sexual abuse is rising in prominence around global discussions on online CSEA due to its growing complexity and scale.

Hannah Nguyen