Child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is on the rise worldwide. Every year, it is estimated that millions of illegal images and videos are shared on peer-to-peer networks, on online forums, or are uploaded to pornographic sites. Such explicit material typically shows innocent children being coerced into posing in a sexualised manner or performing sexual acts alone, with objects, or other people. Labelling such material as "child pornography" perpetuates the abuse of these minors who are innocent victims of grooming, peer pressure, and economic hardships. Once any material is shared online, it is extremely difficult to retrieve and eradicate, and therefore has the potential to haunt victims throughout their lives.
Child sexual abuse material is considered illegal in Malta. The national Child Sexual Abuse Hotline has invested in updating the website www.childwebalert.gov.mt to ensure a more efficient and effective online reporting process. This anonymous and confidential reporting system deals exclusively with the handling of indecent images of minors.
ChildWebAlert operates under the Foundation of Social Welfare Services and works closely with the local enforcement cybercrime unit as well as INHOPE, an international network made up of 46 hotlines worldwide that collaborate with Europol and Interpol to remove child sexual abuse material posted online, track and trace the whereabouts of victims, and bring perpetrators to justice.
While it is illegal to actively search for child sexual abuse material, those who come across such material are duty-bound to protect these children by submitting an anonymous report through ChildWebAlert.
Upon entering the ChildWebAlert home page, visitors simply need to click on the "Report Online Abuse" button, fill out the mandatory fields in the provided form, and paste the link of the image, video, or website hosting the indecent material in the box marked "Link to website with offending content". This will allow professional analysts to find, assess, and alert the relevant authorities.
The ChildWebAlert team urges members of the public to share this message with friends and family and help us protect the innocence of young children who have fallen prey to sexual abuse. Please remember not to retain or share any indecent images but to report as quickly as possible through the ChildWebAlert website.
This article was initially published on the INHOPE website and is reproduced here with permission.
Find out more information about the work of the Maltese Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.