Childwebalert Seminar 28-29 May 2018

Publication Date: May 30, 2018
 
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The Childwebalert Hotline within Agenzija Appogg in collaboration with the BeSmartOnline! project organised a two day seminar on the 28th and the 29th May 2018. The aim of this seminar was to give  social workers, members of the Malta Police Force and members of the Psycho-Social Team within the National School Support Services,  an outline of the Childwebalert service. Childwebalert provides an online reporting system through which the general public can report, in a confidential and secure manner, websites which host Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM).is The reporting system is available on www.childwebalert.gov.mt

Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) refers to photographs or videos of children being sexually abused uploaded on the Internet. Every photograph or video has real children in it and once uploaded online, the abuse can be seen by many and the child is re-victimised each time this material is viewed online. Reporting such hideous and illegal content kicks off a process which culminates with the take-down of the content and, ultimately, if investigations are successful, the child being removed from the abusive situation. The hotline collaborates hand in hand with the Cyber-Crime Unit within the Malta Police Force – a relationship that has been formalised through a long-standing Memorandum of Understanding between Agenzija Appogg and the Police.  

As the national hotline, Childwebalert is a contributing member of Inhope, the international network of hotlines established around the world.  The seminar was addressed by Mr. Michael Sheath from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation. The Foundation is a UK-wide charity dedicated solely to tackling child sexual abuse. For the past 19 years Mr. Sheath has worked in family courts where he has conducted assessments of both convicted and alleged sexual offenders and their partners in family proceedings. He has been working with men who use the Internet to acquire child abuse imagery since 1995 and has published research on online groomers and obtained a professional certificate  in counselling relating to sex addiction.  Whilsts referring to the many convicted men he has worked with, Sheath explained that many of them claim that initially they stumbled across such content by coincidence but then they persisted in watching this content.  Furthermore, Sheath said, the majority of them did not have a history of committing sexual offences and lead normal and ordinary lives with their families. The Lucy Faithfull Foundation provides the “Stop it Now” helpline which offers support to individuals who have sexual thoughts related to children or who are viewing CSAM. Such support is also extended to to families and partners of convicted CSAM viewers. 

In her closing address, Ms Ruth Sciberras, Operations Director within Agenzija Appogg claimed that “admittedly the challenge the hotline set out to achieve is very difficult. Eliminating child sexual abuse online is a daily struggle our team does with enormous passion and admirable dedication and despite the emotional strain nothing deteres them from their goal.” Ms Sciberras appealed for everyone who comes across such content to do the right thing and report it, reminding everyone that a child can be rescued and an offender can be prosecuted.

The Child

webalert Hotline is part of the BeSmartOnline! project  which is implemented through a consortium coordinated by the Malta Communication Authority (MCA) and brings together Agenzija Appogg, the Directorate for Learning and Assessment Programmes and  the Office of the Commissioner for Children.

For further information one can visit:www.besmartonline.org.mt or visit the project’s Facebook page on https://www.facebook.com/saferinternet.mt/​