All it takes is one quick trip to the water cooler to be reminded of the depressing news going on in the world today. Between multiple international crises and the ongoing domestic civil strife, many individuals may consider the fight against child sexual exploitation to be another doom and gloom topic.
On the contrary, we at Thorn, are in the midst of the fight, and see the success every day. With so many positive aspects about the fight against child sex trafficking and child abuse imagery, we’d like to share a few reasons why we think that the topic of child sexual exploitation doesn’t have to be another “doom and gloom” subject.
1 – Governments are Taking Action
Governments are coming together to research and fund the fight against child sexual exploitation. This summer, Thorn attended a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) meeting to discuss the future of technology in the fight against child sex trafficking and child abuse imagery. We were excited to hear about many of the new technologies that are being explored that can be leveraged to stop child sexual exploitation.
2 – Anti-Child Exploitation Organizations are Innovating
Five years ago there were only a handful of anti-child sexual exploitation organizations. Over the past few years, the number of these organizations has rapidly expanded, and new organizations are finding innovative ways to counter the threat of child sex trafficking and child abuse imagery. In a similar vein, organizations that have been around for years, like NCMEC and Polaris, are taking innovative and collaborative steps to fight child exploitation such as the BEFREE text shortcode.
Thorn’s Hackathon was one such example; over 100 programmers united to develop technological solutions to the problem of child sexual exploitation. The success of our Hackathon led to the creation of Thorn’s Innovation Lab, a multi-year fellowship for data scientists and engineers who want to use their knowledge to help end child sexual exploitation online.
3 -Tech Companies are Stepping up Security Practices
We, at Thorn, have personally seen the transformation that private companies have been making. Thanks to wider recognition of illegal activity that takes place on various platforms, companies have stepped up their security and prevention techniques. Thorn has written and published a “Best Practices Guide” for companies that may be at risk of harboring individuals who sexually exploit children. The Thorn Sound Practices Guide can be downloaded here.
Numerous leaders in the technology industry have joined Thorn’s Tech Task Force to help tackle some of the most difficult problems and are teaming up to get child abuse content off their platforms.
4 -Ratings Show Increasingly Comprehensive State Laws Against Sex Trafficking
Our partner, Polaris, released its annual ratings of state sex trafficking laws in July, we were happy to see a marked increase in the ratings. The ratings were based on twelve categories and ranked each state on how effectively they could combat child sex trafficking. In 2014, the number of worst rated states dropped to zero. Similarly, the number of best-rated states jumped to 39, from only 11 states in 2011.
This increase in the number of states with comprehensive sex trafficking laws means that states can more easily prosecute individuals who have sexually exploited children. In addition to states’ judicial capabilities, the study showed an increase in states’ victim’s assistance laws, as well as law enforcement training and state-level anti-trafficking task forces.
5 – Thorn Partners With Law Enforcement And Is Developing Innovative Deterrence Tools
Thorn works closely with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Thanks to this close working relationship, we’ve collaborated with law enforcement agencies to brainstorm and develop new tools to help identify and stop potential child sex predators.
One of our most successful tools in the fight against child exploitation is our deterrence program. Thorn’s deterrence program aims to stop people who are searching for child abuse content online, and directs them to find help. Over 5000 people have reached out for help to stop their actions before abusing a child.
These ideas and technologies are helping win the fight against child sexual exploitation. If you’re interested in learning more, join our email list or follow us on social media!