Call to let victims seek redress for child abuse images

Child sex abuse victims should be allowed to seek compensation from those found in possession of online images of that abuse, children’s charities have said.

They say the damage caused to youngsters should be assessed and those who can be identified should have the legal right to receive payouts from their abusers.

The recommendation forms part of an online manifesto released by the British-based Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety (CHIS), which includes Action for Children, Barnardos, Kidscape, and the NSPCC.

Following the seizure of a child abuse image, the first priority for authorities should be to identify the child, determine their location, and remove them and others who might be at risk to a place of greater safety, says CHIS. It also suggests that child sex abuse victims living abroad should be able to sue paedophiles through British courts.

Additionally, CHIS proposes that when someone is cautioned or convicted of being in possession of any indecent images, the child’s parents or legal representatives should be informed.

Claire Lilley, NSPCC head of child safety online, said: “Any initiative that helps eradicate child abuse images is worth serious consideration. Financial compensation may go some way to helping the young victims rebuild their lives.

“We must never forget that each of these images or videos features a crime scene where real children have been abused. And there is also evidence that some of those caught in possession of them will have committed other sex offences against children.

“Once someone has been apprehended for possessing or producing these vile images the most important step is to identify the children, make sure they are safe and can get therapeutic help to recover from the abuse.

“Many children are constantly distressed by the thought that the pictures will be circulated to a large audience and seen many times over.”

The manifesto states the internet can and does expose children and young people to a risk of harm, and identifies some of the risks as sites promoting damaging behaviour such as self-harm, sexual predators, or bullies.

CHIS also says a “major review” of child abuse images online should be established.

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