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News blog3 April 2020Directorate-General for Communication

Protect your children – and not only against the virus

Children suffer less from the virus than older people do. It’s something we’re all thankful for. But they can still sometimes get sick and – very rarely – even die. They can transmit the virus.

Protect your children – and not only against the virus
European Union 2020

And there are other dangers that threaten them in the present crisis perhaps even more.

Just today, Europe’s crime fighters Europol published a report showing an increase of online child sexual exploitation during the corona crisis.

The report also warns against virus–related cyber-crime and disinformation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. There are people out there exploiting a deadly virus to harm your children.

With children learning at home, they are online almost all the time, and even more at risk than usual.

This news unfortunately does not come as a surprise.

Online child sexual exploitation is on the rise.  Last year, tech companies reported 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused – twice as many as the year before. Newspapers speak of an “explosion” of child sexual abuse.

Europol fights these crimes on a daily basis, together with police forces in the Member States and around the world. I have a lot of respect for the people who do this important and difficult job.

We’re working together in Europe, to tackle these crimes more effectively. We must update our laws to make it easier for police to catch criminals.  And we must boost Europol, so it can work more effectively across borders.

Later this year, we will present a strategy on how to combat child abuse.

As a victim once said in in a heart-breaking testimony: “The bogeyman is real and lives on the Web”.  As we all know, the bogeyman hates the light. So let’s switch on the light.

As parents, let’s help our children to resist danger. Let’s follow Europol’s advice: Use parental controls. Talk to your children about cyber safety, listen to their experiences, warn them about dangers.

As societies, let’s join forces to prevent and prosecute these horrible crimes.

And as Europeans, let’s do so together.


Publication date
3 April 2020
Directorate-General for Communication