COVID-19: Risk of Online Child Exploitation

By Constance Ndeleko

We are thankful for our online super highways, that are apparently keeping us ahead of time on some issues and we appreciate since this is the time when adults seem not to be bothered that much on how much time children are spending online and perhaps what sites they are visiting.

This presents potential for increased online perpetrators since traffic has increased and most guardians will allow their children to spend enough time online to prevent their almost unstoppable whines.


It is of importance that we ensure we are on the lookout for possibilities of advent online bullying, online sexual exploitation of children. Children through their curiosity of quenching to know more inadvertently they might open sites that are unsafe for their use, thus urging parents and guardians to be vigilant of what is happening when they’re engaged online.

These are perilous times that necessitate our total involvement towards promoting child protection. Predators are logged in to find their prey and our children who are the most vulnerable are mining different data online to pass time or learn one or two things as they social distance themselves.


Their normalcy has a different turn of event where they now see a potential of spending more time online and at least they won’t be called off to stay away from their gadgets. This leads to children creating or indulging themselves in online games to kill time especially with the unprecedented worldwide pandemic that has struck.

Online sexual exploitation comes in many forms. Individuals may coerce victims into providing sexually explicit images or videos of themselves, often in compliance with offenders’ threats to post the images publicly or send the images to victims’ friends and family.

Other offenders may make casual contact with children online, gain their trust, and introduce sexual conversation that increases in egregiousness over time. Ultimately this activity may result in maintaining an online relationship that includes sexual conversation and the exchange of illicit images, to eventually physically meeting the child in-person.

So how can we protect our children from this?

  • It is high time we re-introduce the online sexual exploitation topic.
  • Safe guarding measure while using the online space.
  • Where and how to report instances that violate their rights, call 116 and stop victimization.
  • How they can find safe online pages for children to use and how to filter adult content.
  • Monitor your children’s use of the Internet; keep electronic devices in an open, common room of the house.
  • Check your children’s profiles and what they post online.
  • Explain to your children that images posted online will be permanently on the Internet.
  • Make sure children know that anyone who asks a child to engage in sexually explicit activity online should be reported to a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult and law enforcement.
  • Remember that victims should not be afraid to tell law enforcement if they are being sexually exploited. It is not a crime for a child to send sexually explicit images to someone if they are compelled or coerced to do so.

Abuse can occur offline through direct contact with another individual. During these uncertain conditions, where time with other adults and caregivers has increased immensely, parents/guardians should communicate with their children about appropriate contact with adults and watch for any changes in behavior, including an increase in nightmares, withdrawn behavior, angry outbursts, anxiety, depression, not wanting to be left alone with an individual, and sexual knowledge.

Let’s be vigilant, stay safe, wash hands and practice social distancing




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