The following is a list of frequently asked questions relating to CSEC issues. Simply click on the question to see the answer below. If your question is not answered here, please feel free to contact us.
1. Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)
1. What is CSEC?
CSEC is the sexual exploitation of a person under 18-years-old where they are coerced, forced, or deceived into being involved in sexualised activities with a commercial aspect, whether online or offline. The child or young person is often provided with money, gifts, clothing, drugs/alcohol/cigarettes, protection and/or emotional attention to coerce them into the exploitative situation.
Other forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children include sexual exploitation in travel and tourism, child/forced marriages, sexual exploitation in conflict.
Commercial sexual exploitation differs from child sexual abuse (CSA), as it involves payment of some sort. CSA refers to such things as incest, child rape etc.
2. Scope (Where does it occur? Who is affected?)
CSEC is a global reality that can be found in all countries and social groups. Due to the covert and illegal nature of CSEC, it is difficult to identify how many children and young people are affected.
CSEC can take place for example in homes, institutions, schools, workplaces, in travel and tourism, and within families and communities.
3. Causes (Why is it there? Why does CSEC occur?)
There are various factors that increase vulnerability to exploitation for children and young people. While anyone can be a victim of sexual exploitation, various factors have been evidenced to increase vulnerability. Common factors include poverty, homelessness, runaway/throwaway children and young people, living in group homes and/or shelters, involvement in the child welfare system, disengagement from the school system, disengagement from the family unit, Indigenous status, immigration status, mental health, substance use, child abuse and more specifically, child sexual abuse.
Various additional factors such as legislation not being implemented into practice within law enforcement, social services, and health/mental health care, lack of supports including emergency and transitional housing supports, lack of specialist practitioners, limited training opportunities, and CSEC being low priority, further affects identification and intervention, increasing vulnerability further.
4. Impacts (What damage does it cause?)
Sexual exploitation can have serious short- and long-term physical, psychological and social impacts for victims/survivors; further impacts are also experienced by families and support networks, communities, and the wider society.
Victims are at an increased risk of such things as:
Physical injuries due to violence - Bruises, scars and other signs of physical abuse and torture often in areas not visible such as lower back
Physical injuries due to sexual violence
Increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections
Increased risk of contracting HIV
Pelvic pain, rectal trauma and urinary difficulties
Complications due to pregnancy
Infertility from chronic untreated sexually transmitted infections or unsafe abortions
Cancer, Diabetes, and other illnesses
Infectious diseases like tuberculosis
Serious dental problems
Physical effects due to substance use
Psychological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioural disruptions
Self-harming behaviour and suicidality
Debilitating feelings of guilt and shame
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Stockholm Syndrome/Trauma Bond
Socialisation issues leading to limited social and interaction skills
Limited ability to conduct basic skills including accessing financial assistance, employment or housing search, education
Accessing basic necessities
Lack of trust leading to reliance on trafficker
Difficulty integrating into society following trafficking situation
Difficulty integrating into home or family dynamics
Fear of stigma and isolation
5. To what extent is the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) a problem in New Zealand?
Child sexual exploitation involves the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration. (Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child).
The specific number of children forced into commercial sexual exploitation varies over time and it is quite difficult to identify given the covert nature of these types of crimes, low prevalence of self-disclosure, and lack of victim/survivor cooperation with the criminal justice system resulting from such things as fear, manipulation, coercion, and/or trauma bonds.
New developments, such as the rise of the Internet and greater access to international travel, have further increased the risk of exploitation for children and young people, as we have seen significant and consistent increases in online sexual abuse and sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. The increasing vulnerability of children to exploitation is internationally recognised and often times outpaces law enforcement, child welfare and protection, and legislation.
6. To what extent is child sexual abuse material (CSAM) a problem in New Zealand?
Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) is defined as "any representation, by whatever means, of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes." (Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child).
CSAM is frequently referred to as “child pornography”; however, we are moving away from this term as it does not illustrate the abusive and exploitative nature of this type of crime. The term ‘pornography’ often carries an assumption that involvement is consensual. Children cannot consent to be involved in any type of sexual activity.
CSAM can include photographs, negatives, slides, magazines, books, drawings, movies, videotapes, computer disks or files, live-streaming, and computer-generated images indistinguishable from an actual child. CSAM can include material that shows a child in a sexually suggestive or explicit manner fully clothed, partially clothed, or nude, and can include material that does or does not illustrate sexual activity. The use of children in the production of sexualised material is sexual abuse and exploitation. (Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child).
The introduction and advancement of technology and the Internet and increased access to varying platforms have had a significant impact on the ongoing increase of child sexual abuse material. The Internet has no geographical borders and New Zealand is not isolated from this form of sexual exploitation of children. The indication from law enforcement agencies such as the Police, Customs, and the Department of Internal Affairs is that there is a significant number of New Zealanders accessing illegal sites containing CSAM . The Department of Internal Affairs Censorship Compliance Unit advise that the trends point towards sexual abuse acts becoming more violent and that the children being abused are younger than previously.
7. To what extent is sexual exploitation in travel and tourism (SECTT) a problem in New Zealand?
Sexual exploitation in travel and tourism (SECTT) is the commercial sexual exploitation of children by international or domestic/regional travellers to engage in sexual acts with children, or foreigners who engage in sexual activity with a child while overseas. This type of exploitation includes travellers, tourists, business travellers, volunteers, and ex-pats and and often involves a third party who procures a child from local communities. However; anyone involved in this type of exploitation is considered a travelling sex offender.
Sexual exploitation in travel and tourism (SECTT) is widespread internationally with offenders travelling from countries globally to exploit children who are forced into the sex industry. New Zealand is both a destination for SECTT and also a source country where travelling offenders originate from.
8. Is there a difference between sexual exploitation and trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation?
Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation and/or exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of a person in order to exploit that person, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour (United Nations). Human trafficking also includes domestic servitude, forced marriage, child marriage, debt bondage, organ harvesting, forced begging, child soldiers and exploitation in conflict.
There is often an assumption that human trafficking must include the movement across international borders; however, the majority of trafficking in most countries happens on the domestic level. In New Zealand, victims/survivors of CSEC and human trafficking are overwhelmingly domestic.
International Trafficking: Movement of people across international borders for the purpose of exploitation. This can occur through the movement of victims across borders with traffickers or can occur through the recruitment of victims to enter a country voluntarily where the victim is exploited following arrival.
Domestic Trafficking: This can occur when a person is exploited within a country, region, city, town, community, or within the person's home. This can also occur when a person is exploited following migration or seeking asylum.
9. What are the penalties for child sex offending, exploitation, and trafficking in New Zealand?
Under the New Zealand Crimes Act 1961, Section 98AA, every person who sells, buys, barters, rents, hires or in any other way enters into a dealing involving a person under 18 years for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation of a child can be sentenced up to 14 years in jail.
Under the Crimes Act 1961 Section 131B, every person can be sentenced to 7 years for meeting a child (under 18 yrs) following sexual grooming.
Under the Crimes Act Section 98D, every person who arranges, organises, procures the entry of a person into, or the exit of a person out of, New Zealand or any other State for the purpose of exploiting or facilitating the exploitation of the person; or the reception, recruitment, transport, transfer, concealment, or harbouring of a person in New Zealand or any other State for the purpose of exploiting or facilitating the exploitation of the person can be sentenced to up to 20 years and be fined up to $500,000.
Under the Film, Video and Publication Classification Act 1993 Section 131A, a person can be sentenced up to 10 years and fined up to $50,000 for possessing, distributing or importing material that is classed as objectionable.
10. Does reporting child sexual abuse material 9CSAM) help rescue children?
Images can sometimes provide clues to where offenders are. In November 2001, the ECPAT Hotline received a tip about a series of images posted in a news group. The images turned out to have been produced only a few days previously. The Swedish Criminal Investigation Department was notified and in turn contacted the police authorities in a neighbouring Nordic country. Thanks to a small detail in one of the images, the offender could be identified and arrested within 24 hours and the child was placed in care.
A search of the man’s computer revealed extensive information about dissemination of CSAM and contacts with additional people on the internet with similar interests.
Four months later, the San Diego Chronicle in California printed its first article about what became known as Operation Hamlet. The operation was a wide-ranging international police collaboration to bring to justice a CSAM network linking several countries: United States, UK, Denmark, and Germany.
The operation succeeded in identifying and stopping more than 40 on-going sexual assaults on children and the CSAM network was exposed. The case illustrates how a tiny detail in an image, and a tip to a hotline in combination with pro-active action and prepared collaboration with the police, can at times produce the desired result.
Source: Beyond all Tolerance, Save the Children Sweden 2004
Collaborative efforts between law enforcement and Customs internationally continue to identify victims and offenders of CSAM that sometimes span many countries globally. While a victim may not be identified in every case, these collaborative efforts work to dismantle networks and hold accountable those who exploit children.
11. I am seeking help for child sexual exploitation issues?
The first contact should be with the Police and/or Oranga Tamariki (OT). They are trained and resourced to deal with this type of crime. You will need to provide evidence to substantiate your complaint.
12. I find child sexual abuse material on a website or email?
ECPAT Child ALERT offers a reporting hotline available to report suspected or known objectionable material. It is a safe, free and anonymous way to effectively report websites suspected of containing objectionable material. The information reported is directed to the Department of Internal Affairs for review. To make a report simply click on the “Report a Case” tab on our homepage and input the required information.
13. I know someone who views child sexual abuse material?
It is important to inform the person that viewing objectionable material is illegal and that what they are viewing is the actual physical and sexual abuse of a child. If possible, report the source of the material (website, social media platform, Dark Web, etc.). Encourage the person to seek support and if the person is a young person, assist with finding the appropriate supports if necessary. If the person continues to view objectionable material, contact police.
14. Can people who sexually abuse children stop?
Yes! Though in order to stop, people who sexually abuse children must receive specialist treatment.
Treatment provides people with the awareness and skills to prevent further offending.
Many people who sexually abuse will learn to control themselves around children if they are offered specialised treatment. When people with sexual behaviour problems have the support of their friends and families, they are more likely to complete their treatment programme and live productive, abuse-free lives.
For further information on sex offending treatments, visit www.safenetwork.co.nz.
2. The CSEC & CSA in New Zealand
1. Is it legal for an adult to have sex with anyone aged under 16?
The legal age of consent in New Zealand is 16 years of age for both males and females. The law applies to male or female adults having sex with underage children of either sex, as well as older teenagers who have sex with boyfriends or girlfriends under the age of 16 with penalties up to 10 years imprisonment.
3. What should I do if …?
1. My child has been sexually solicited or received sexually explicit messages by someone who knows my child is under 16?
Report this immediately to the Police. It is an offence and punishable by law. Call 0800 555 111 or complete our confidential online form at http://www.crimestoppers-nz.org/