A shared language to tackle child sexual abuse

The Luxembourg Guidelines

Posted in: Child Sexual Abuse , Uncategorised

An Interagency Working Group initiated by ECPAT International has released the ‘Terminology Guidelines for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse’ in Geneva Switzerland. Dubbed the Luxembourg Guidelines after their adoption in the small country in 2016, they mark a critical step in strengthening collaboration to address the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

Despite the existence of legal definitions for a number of sexual crimes against children, there is still considerable confusion surrounding the use of different terminology related to the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Even where the same terms are used, there is quite often disagreement concerning their actual meaning, leading to the use of the same words to refer to different actions or situations. This has created significant challenges for policy development and programming, the development of legislation, and data collection, leading to flawed responses and limited and ineffective methods of measuring impact or setting targets. In the context of international and cross-border child sexual exploitation and abuse, these difficulties are magnified.

“Words matter because they affect how we conceptualise problems, prioritise issues, and forge responses. Inconsistent use of language and terms can lead to inconsistent laws and policy responses on the same issue.”

Interagency Working Group

on Sexual Exploitation of Children

The guidelines offer guidance on how to navigate the complex lexicon of terms commonly used in the discussion and description of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children. They aim to build consensus on key concepts in order to strengthen data collection and cooperation across agencies, sectors and countries. The guidelines have been made available to all major child protection agencies and organisations around the world, as well as to law-makers and the media.

They were developed over the course of 18 months under the guidance of an Interagency Working Group comprised of representatives from the following 18 organisations: African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; Child Rights Connect; Council of Europe Secretariat; ECPAT International; Europol; INHOPE – The International Association of Internet Hotlines; Instituto Interamericano del niño, la niña y adolescentes (OEA); International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children; International Labour Office; International Telecommunication Union; INTERPOL; Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Plan International; Save the Children International; United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child; United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children; Child Prostitution and Child Pornography; United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children; and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The working group also invited observers to the process from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Oak Foundation; and the University of Bedfordshire, The International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking.

Visit the Luxembourg Guidelines website to download your version and find out more about the Interagency Working Group on Sexual Exploitation of Children.