EU Commission proposes to strengthen criminal law rules to fight child sexual abuse

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The threat of both offline and online child sexual abuse in the EU grows year by year, affecting 1.5 million children in the EU in 2022 alone. While progress has been made to better protect children online, existing criminal law rules on child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation are no longer fit for purpose. That is why the Commission has now proposed to update these laws to change a reality which has seen one in five children suffer from some form of sexual violence, offline and online.

First of all, the EU will expand the definition across Member States of what qualifies as a criminal offence when it comes to child sexual abuse, to cover offences like livestreaming of child sexual abuse. In terms of dealing with offences, prosecution and support will be strengthened. This will give victims a longer timeframe to report sexual abuse, grant them rights to financial compensation and provide more support to child victims and adult survivors alike.

Prevention will be strengthened as well. Member States should make better use of available prevention programmes and invest more to raise awareness, especially for online risks. In addition, recruiters for activities involving close contact with children and for organisations working against child sexual abuse must be required to check the criminal records of the candidates.

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