Preventing child sexual abuse and exploitation in Finland

  • Hotlines
  • 27/06/2018
  • Child Protection and Finnish Hotline Unit

In the June 2018 edition of the BIK bulletin, we look at hotline trends and issues, hearing also from various members of the INHOPE hotline network. Here, we hear from the Child Protection and Finnish Hotline Unit on several of its approaches, including awareness-raising strategies.

New forms of uploading and downloading illegal content online are constantly evolving, thus making it a challenge to fight against online child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Save the Children Finland and Child Protection and Finnish Hotline Unit, play an important role in protecting children online.
 
The Finnish Hotline is a part of the international INHOPE network and, like all the other INHOPE network hotlines, maintains a web-based presence that removes CSAM from the internet. Any image or activity that is suspected to be illegal can be reported anonymously to Nettivihje by email. Nettivihje is not a state authority in Finland, which makes it easier for anyone to report illegal content. The hotline forwards information on any material it assesses to be illegal under Finnish law to the National Bureau of Investigation of Finland, so that appropriate measures can be taken by the police. Information about the suspected illegal material is also reported to INHOPE, which enables the hosting country to take it down. 
 
According to 2017 statistics, the Finnish Hotline processed over 4,000 reports, which contained about 50,000 images or videos. There are four ways of categorising illegal content: 66 per cent of the content was classified as CSAM, 10 per cent was marked as doubtful child- or youth-related sexual images, 16 per cent of the content could not be found online, while 8 per cent included material that was not illegal but contained material that was analysed as adult sexual material. 93 per cent of CSAM focused on pre-pubescent children, 4 per cent focused on infants and the rest involved pubescent children. In comparison to the figures from previous years (2015-2016), there is a significant rise in content involving younger children.
 
Graph showing reports to the Finnish Hotline.
 
Sexual crimes related to the digital environment involve several legislative challenges, child welfare concerns and combating the crime itself. Combating online child sexual abuse in Finland requires input from individual citizens as well as an active participation from national and international authorities. The Finnish Hotline receives reports primarily from individuals who come across suspected illegal content online. The Finnish Hotline always reports CSAM to the National Bureau of Investigation of Finland and continues to promote the take down of illegal material online. 
 
Nettivihje actively promotes the use of the right terminology when speaking about CSAM instead of using phrases like "child pornography" which normalise this crime. Through education and training, the hotline team raises awareness and improves children and adolescents' understanding of safe behaviour on the internet. There is a new preventive self-help programme for people who are sexually attracted to children and view illegal imagery of children. The Finnish Hotline team promotes the rights of the child by writing opinion pieces in newspapers, so raising issues for public discussion. They are often approached for official statements related to child safety and protection. In 2017, the team started an inquiry for children concerning the online sexual harassment of children. Over 3,000 children from all over Finland answered the inquiry and the results will be announced in September 2018. 
 
The Finnish Hotline was independently audited in 2016 and found to comply with the required standards and procedures set out in the INHOPE Quality Assurance Programme. The Hotline was awarded a certificate of quality in 2016. In 2017, the Ministry of Justice also awarded the Finnish Hotline for fifteen years of consistent work in preventing online child sexual abuse and exploitation. Additionally, the hotline also won the Finnish National Crime Prevention Prize in 2017.
 
The Finnish Hotline unit consists of four advisors who all participate in assessing content. The unit has a broad expertise such as child protection, trauma focused cognitive behavioural psychotherapy, education theory and media literacy. The Finnish Hotline is a good example how anyone can make a difference. No one can protect children alone - successful child protection work is everyone's responsibility.
 
For further information, please see the INHOPE website or the Finnish Hotline website.
 
Find out more about the work of the Finnish Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services.

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