Online child abuse growing problem in Cambodia

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A boy playing with a smart phone at home in Phnom Penh recently. POST STAFF

A report found that 11 per cent of internet-using children aged 12-17 had experienced clear examples of online sexual exploitation and abuse in the year prior to being surveyed.

The Cambodian National Council for Children (CNCC) on September 30 issued a new report titled “Stopping abuse incidents in Cambodia: Evidence of online child sexual exploitation.”

Sorn Sabon, deputy head of the CNCC’s General Secretariat, said that online exploitation of children is a global problem that happens in many forms and it has become a cause for concern that requires all stakeholders – including the public, guardians of children, authorities and civil society organisations – to work together to protect children from abuse.

“The sexual exploitation of children has serious physical and psychological consequences.Most child victims find it difficult to trust others and suffer from despair, loneliness, confusion, frustration, self-blame and fear,” she added.

Khieu Borey, secretary of state of the social affairs ministry and chair of the CNCC, said Cambodia is a country that has moved forward to contribute to the improvement of child protection in the best interests of its children.

“Spending time online brings inevitable risks and threats associated with unacceptable incidents as well as some of the risks and threats that children have been experiencing elsewhere. Some risks and threats are particular to only the online context,” she added.

UNICEF Cambodia Representative Foroogh Foyouzat said that the findings clearly show the magnitude of the risk that children face online in the digital world with 11 per cent of children aged 12-17 using the internet reporting they had encountered clear examples of online sexual exploitation and abuse in the years before the survey was made.

She added that 16 per cent of children suffered from sexual exploitation, which occurred mainly on social media. 16 per cent of children have been sent unwanted sexual images and 9 per cent were asked to share pictures of a sexual nature,