An initiative to tackle online child sexual abuse imagery has been welcomed by charity Saving Children and Revealing Secrets.
Bermuda teaming up with the International Watch Foundation is a “huge” step in the fight against child sexual abuse, chairman Jon Brunson told The Royal Gazette.
But Mr Brunson stressed that there is still more work to be done, adding that the “right people” will have to work together to prevent the crime from happening in the first place and to bring perpetrators to justice.
“To me, this is a really positive step in the fight against child sexual abuse,” he said.
“There’s still more work to be done but this is such a huge step because it’s greater awareness, it’s letting people know that there is another watchdog out there and it’s in the virtual world. So for people who think that they can use the virtual world to have access to child sexual abuse imagery, it’s putting them on notice that at least these twelve countries are taking this issue very seriously.”
Scars’ founder and executive director Debi Ray-Rivers added: “We are so excited for this. This is great news for Bermuda. We are looking forward to finding out how exactly it is going to work.”
It was announced on Tuesday that a dedicated IWF reporting portal enabling internet users to report images and videos of child sexual abuse safely and anonymously had been launched simultaneously in 12 UK overseas territories.
By working closely with internet companies, the IWF helps people who come across online child sexual abuse images and videos to report it via a web-based reporting hotline. A team of experienced IWF analysts then work directly with the internet industry and law enforcement to have any abusive imagery removed quickly.
But Mr Brunson stressed that more work would be needed to identify the source of the images along with who had been accessing them in the hopes of bringing perpetrators to prosecution.
“It requires the right people continuing to work together to battle this thing,” he said.
“Given what the UK overseas territories, in alliance with the IWF, are now intending to do, and the role we play as Bermuda, we now have to work together with the police and the other agencies and internet service providers to really create a framework that can report into this structure to remove images, but also take it one step further in preventing these images from ever getting to this point.
“And I would also say that feeds directly into our agenda about prevention. Prevention is the key and awareness about what child sexual abuse is, the crime of child sexual abuse and the impact that it has feeds into this agenda.”
• For more information or to report abusive imagery, visit www.report.iwf.org.uk/bm
• To see the IWF poster about the initiative, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”.
By Lisa Simpson The Royal Gazette