Children can’t wait.

HDF announces two major initiatives to uncover the global prevalence of child sexual exploitation and abuse

Posted in: Child Resilience , Harmful Practices , Life Choices , Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse , Uncategorised

18 November 2021 | Grants to the University of Edinburgh and the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, Johns Hopkins University will provide ground-breaking insight into the scale and nature of abuse

Since Human Dignity Foundation was established in 2004, we have seen first-hand the importance of reliable data in the fight against child sexual exploitation and abuse.

To be able to effectively tackle this issue we need to understand prevalence. What happens? Where does it happen? How much does it happen? Unfortunately, where data does exist, it is of often of mixed quality or incomparable between countries. Subsequently the response of society is limited.

We need good data and high-quality analysis to design smarter responses, to advocate for better policy and to help unlock the funding so desperately needed to tackle child sexual exploitation and abuse.

That’s why we have committed to partnerships with two institutions who are primed to lead ground-breaking research into prevalence.

University of Edinburgh
HDF is establishing an independent global data institute for child safety at the University of Edinburgh. The institute will gather the most current, reliable and evidence-based data on child sexual exploitation and abuse. It will use insights from the data to inform policy and drive sustainable and coordinated action to support vulnerable children across the world.

The institute will be led by Paul Stanfield, Executive Director elect. His extensive international career as a senior law enforcement officer includes serving at INTERPOL and the UK National Crime Agency. Paul has long championed the use of data to gain a better understanding of the abuse and exploitation of children. His priority is to use better data to drive activity and secure resources to protect these vulnerable children globally.

“Through this institute and with our colleagues at the University of Edinburgh, we are investing in a potentially transformative piece of sector infrastructure. This will provide an independent, global and enduring analysis of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Our partners across the public and private sectors can then use the data to tackle this gravest of threats to these vulnerable children,” said Dr John Climax, Founder and Chair of Human Dignity Foundation.

“We are extremely grateful for the generous support from Human Dignity Foundation to empower our researchers and partners to address such a complex and insufficiently understood issue. The University is committed to using our research to address social and global challenges. It is hard to imagine an opportunity more in line with our mission than this,” said Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.

“Edinburgh is at the forefront of UK research in this area and is supported by the UK Government through our £260 million investment in the Data Driven Innovation programme, as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal,” said Iain Stewart, UK Government Minister for Scotland.

Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse
HDF is also supporting a five-year study which will develop the world’s first comprehensive estimates of the prevalence of child sexual abuse perpetration in at least six countries, yielding methodologies that can be replicated across diverse regions and delivering the statistical cornerstone needed to prevent CSA before it happens.

This initiative will be carried out by the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH), in collaboration with the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group (The Royal) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What is particularly exciting about this study is the collaboration with the CDC, which has conducted victimization-focused prevalence studies in dozens of countries. By adding a new module of questions to the CDC’s Violence Against Children Surveys, the study team can quickly begin to estimate perpetration prevalence around the world.

“Globally, we do not understand the nature or scale of child sexual abuse perpetration. This stark reality provides the backdrop to this vital research initiative. Understanding the risk factors of perpetration will help us prevent it from happening in the first place,” said Dr John Climax.

“When it comes to prevention, we’ve been operating in the dark. Now there is new hope for sparing countless potential victims the pain of child sexual abuse and exploitation, and preventing potential perpetrators the legal and moral consequences of engaging in abusive behaviors,” said Elizabeth J. Letourneau, Ph.D., director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.

“CDC is committed to this collaboration with Johns Hopkins University and Human Dignity Foundation to make sure better data are available to address the urgent public health problem of child sexual abuse,” said Greta Massetti, Ph.D., Field Epidemiology and Prevention Branch Chief, Division of Violence Prevention, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are acutely aware that the scale of this issue demands a far larger and coordinated response across geographies, across institutions, and across industry and civil society.”

A stronger, quicker global response
The urgency of this issue is clear. Vulnerable children are at risk and technology-enabled exploitation and abuse is fuelling the fire. HDF is proud to be announcing partnerships with two institutions whose expertise and work are extremely complementary. They will provide the data and analysis needed to make a real difference to the lives of children.

However, we are also acutely aware that the scale of this issue demands a far larger and coordinated response across geographies, across institutions, and across industry and civil society.

We call on our peers in philanthropy and our partners in industry and government to join us in tackling this gravest of threats to children’s rights.

Children can’t wait.