to end childhood
The Global Pandemic of Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse is a global pandemic.
When it comes to child sexual abuse, the statistics are shocking. Estimates suggest that, worldwide, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually harmed before the age of 18.
The use of child sexual abuse materials is increasing on a massive scale.
The use of child sexual abuse and exploitation material (CSAM) is especially problematic because it creates a demand for and maintains direct child sexual abuse and exploitation. As a result, children are sexually abused over and over again to continually produce content.
Inaction at a political level is resulting in the ongoing harm of children.
Many organisations are motivated to implement prevention interventions based on best practices but face limited political and financial support and a challenging medico-legal framework.
Three Pillars Under One Roof…
Each Pillar of Prevention is intertwined with the others. A single organisation that engages across these pillars will reduce duplication, ensure representation and result in a comprehensive approach to the pandemic of child sexual abuse.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
In an ideal world, sexual traumatisation does not occur in the first place because a potential perpetrator does not commit an assault and does not access or view abuse images. Prevention is a foreseeable solution, for example, by providing easily accessible, affordable and high-quality therapy in conjunction with research and provision of appropriate medication to increase behavioural control.
We provide services, support and networks to organisations who want to implement or already implement causer-related prevention initiatives. As a result, evidence-based programs are promoted in nations worldwide and existing programs are scaled. More individuals that are at an elevated risk of perpetrating sexual offences receive specialised treatment and services. Child sexual abuse is prevented before it occurs and victims are spared the consequences of harm.
Some settings provide the breeding ground for harmful behaviour and the viral spread of CSAM.
Institutions and digital settings act as transmission pathways of CSA. Investigations globally have identified several institutional settings within which patterns of CSA are evident. These institutions include religious organisations, out-of-home care settings, childcare and school environments. In addition, the Internet has become a platform whereby illegal child sexual abuse material (CSAM) can be accessed and shared, and grooming of children can occur. The speed at which technology has developed and the borderless nature of the spread of CSAM means that law enforcement can not keep up.
We work with known high risk settings (online and offline) to develop creative and ethical strategies to prevent the use of child sexual abuse materials and the direct exploitation of children. As a result, high-risk settings are informed, engaged and involved in the protection of children from sexual harm. More individuals are redirected to appropriate services, less harmful behaviour occurs in these high-risk settings and victims are spared the consequences of harm.
CSA is chronically underreported and official statistics represent only the tip of the iceberg.
In the case of significantly more victims disclosing CSA and seeking support, most countries currently have a health care system that would be under-resourced or unable to provide sufficiently skilled and reliable care. Therefore, there is a need to expand therapeutic measures for victims of sexual traumatisation.
Sexual victimisation in childhood is associated with increased susceptibility to stress and a greater likelihood of developing mental or psychosomatic illnesses, as well as an increase in the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. We work to reduce the barriers for victims and survivors to access specialised services. When childhood sexual trauma has occurred, all victims and survivors should have access to low-barrier, low-cost, accessible and anonymous specialised services that mitigate the consequences of CSA.
Our mission is to see comprehensive programs to prevent childhood sexual trauma benefit communities around the world, increasing the chances of future generations. Comprehensive programs means initiatives that address our three Pillars of Prevention; causer-related prevention, high-risk environments and mitigation of consequences.
To achieve this, we will:
CONNECT those with the capacity to implement programs with each other, as well as decision, opinion and policy makers.
EMPOWER professionals to act against child sexual trauma through education, training and access to knowledge about preventive approaches.
HIGHLIGHT and endorse promising initiatives that prevent the occurrence of, and mitigate the consequences of, sexual trauma in children.
MOBILISE communities and media to destigmatise sexual trauma and encourage help seeking of both potential perpetrators and victim-survivors.
In 2022, we will launch our membership structure with a small group of founding members. Our founding members will be organisations that offer preventive services fulfilling the below criteria:
- Target Group: Adult men who fear they may offend, or have offended but are unknown to the criminal justice system, and fit the diagnostic criteria of pedophilia or hebephilia.
- Context: Services are provided in a therapeutic setting, one-on-one and/or in small groups and either face-to-face or online.
- Methods: The services offered to the target group are evidence-based and consist of psychological support. Service may also include pharmacological intervention.
It is our intention to expand membership to (a) organisations that wish to implement programs that fulfil the above criteria, (b) organisations that operate with different target groups, in different contexts and with different methods and (c) professionals and students outside of these organisations with an active interest in causer-related prevention, in the future.
Board of Directors
ACT Against Child Abuse is a project of the Wilhelm von Humboldt Foundation. Our qualified Board of Directors oversee the operations of the Wilhelm von Humboldt Foundation and work closely with the ACT Against Child Abuse Team:
- Dr Victoria von Coburg (Chairperson)
- Dr Alfred Pauls
- Dr Maureen Cronin
Board of Trustees
The experienced Board of Trustees, chaired by Prof Klaus M Beier, MD, PhD, guides the strategic direction of the Wilhelm von Humboldt Foundation and ensures all projects remain aligned with long-term goals.
Below is our dedicated Project Team, who work to make our vision a reality:
- Isabel Schilg, MCCJ, LL.B
- Maximilian von Heyden, MScPH
- Janavi Doshi, MSc
We are deeply grateful for the unwavering support and generosity of our supporters, who make it possible for us to continue our mission:
- Berlin School of Sexual Health GmbH
- Deutsche Kinderschutzstiftung Hänsel+Gretel
- Lars Windhorst
- Stephen Shaul