The International Justice Mission (IJM), a global organization focused on human rights, has developed a research approach to estimate the prevalence of the trafficking to produce child sexual exploitation material. The method is set for implementation in the Philippines this year.

“This is a remarkable win for everyone working and desiring to end this crime against children. We now have the methodology to measure the prevalence of online sexual exploitation of children that previously was not available,” said Samson R. Inocencio, Jr., Regional Vice-President of IJM’s programs against online sexual exploitation of children, in an official statement. 

“This was made possible through a remarkable group of advisers from the Philippine government and global stakeholders, including the world-leading research team from Nottingham Rights Lab,” he added. 

The method was developed as a result of IJM’s Scale of Harm project, launched in March 2021. It convened a council of 24 experts and researchers from organizations across technology, financial, government, and non-government child protection sectors.

To develop the method, the council combined national household surveys using the Network Scale-up Method (NSUM), a research method that estimates the prevalence of hard-to-reach populations, with data science analysis of a range of secondary datasets. 

“Ultimately, successful child protection interventions should lead to fewer children being harmed in the first place. Scale of Harm proves that through global collaboration, we can collectively develop world-leading standards of data measurement to measure violence reduction,” said John E. Tanagho, executive director of IJM’s Center to End Online Sexual Exploitation of Children.

IJM also emphasized that the trafficking of children to produce child sexual exploitation materials (referred to as TCSEM) is a form of online exploitation where “offenders, typically in Western countries, pay adults to livestream the sexual abuse of children in real time, or to produce new abuse photos and videos.”

In the Philippines, the Local Survivor Network (LSN) provided feedback and input for the project. Its goal is to create a network that keeps survivors safe and empowers them to become advocates of enabling justice systems that protect the vulnerable. 

Crystal (a pseudonym), a member of LSN, extended her gratitude to those involved in the project: “Thank you for sharing your expertise and ideas in order to assist us in determining the prevalence of this crime … I hope our efforts lead to the rescue of more survivors or vulnerable individuals from the online sexual exploitation of children.” 

IJM is open to collaboration with internet service providers, electronic service providers, financial sector companies, and others who are interested in implementing the Scale of Harm methodology in the Philippines in 2022. — Bronte H. Lacsamana

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