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 happens when a person under 18 is used sexually by an adult and the adult pays to do this with money, gifts or favours. A gift could be food or clothes. A favour could be a promise of good grades, shelter or protection.
Other forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children include child sex tourism, child marriages and forced marriages.
Commercial sexual exploitation is different from child sex abuse (CSA), because it involves some kind of payment. CSA refers to such things as incest, child rape etc.
2. Scope (Where is it? How many involved?)
Unfortunately CSEC is a global reality you can find in all countries and social groups. Due to the covert and illegal nature of CSEC, it’s generally hard to tell how many children are affected.
The global income from illegal sex industry activities is estimated to be around $US 32 billion dollars per annum and is second only to illegal weapons trading.
In New Zealand, research has shown that one in four girls (and one in eight boys) will be sexually exploited by the age of 16.
Child sex abuse can take place for example in homes, institutions, schools, workplaces, in travel and tourism facilities, within families and communities.
3. Causes (Why is it there? What are the ‘drivers’?)
There are multiple causes for CSEC or circumstances that put children at high risk to become a victim of CSEC.
The main cause is the demand from males to purchase sex with minors. A money making industry has been created to service the demand. The commercial sexual exploitation of children consists of criminal practices that demean, degrade and threaten the physical and psychological integrity of children in return for profit.
Secondary factors such as lack of awareness, family dysfunction, violence, substance abuse, weak legislation, poor law enforcement and poverty all contribute but without the basic demand even these on their own would not sustain CSEC. As with all money making endeavours the market is based on supply and demand.
4. Impacts (What damage does it cause?)
Sexual exploitation can have serious short- and long-term physical, psychological and social consequences - directly at first for the children, but further also for their families and communities.
Victims are at high risk of unwanted pregnancies and of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The minority of children who do manage to escape the sex trade face social stigma, family rejection, shame, fear of retribution, and the loss of future economic prospects.
Other psychological symptoms can be depression, personality or sexual orientation confusion, problems with behaviour (aggressiveness or anger), trouble sleeping, loss of self-confidence, mistrust or hatred towards adults.
2. The CSEC & CSA in New Zealand
1. To what extent is child prostitution a problem in New Zealand?
Child prostitution involves the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration. (Source: Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child).
The specific number of children involved in prostitution varies over time and it is quite difficult to quantify. The Prostitution Law reform Review Committee established by the Minister of Justice to measure the impact of the Prostitution Reform Act of 2003 published a Report in 2008 and quote an estimated figure of about 200 children involved in prostitution.
2. To what extent is child pornography a problem in New Zealand?
Child pornography 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." (Source: Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child).
This can include photographs, negatives, slides, magazines, books, drawings, movies, videotapes and computer disks or files. Generally speaking there are two categories of pornography: one is soft core which is not sexually explicit but involves naked and seductive images of children, and another is hard core which relates to images of children engaged in sexual activity. The use of children in the production of pornography is sexual exploitation. (Source: Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child).
A more accurate definition of child pornography is child sex abuse images.
There is no doubt that with the introduction of the Internet and increased access to it that the amount of child pornography has increased. 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 Internal Affairs is that there is a significant number of New Zealanders accessing illegal child pornography sites. The Department of Internal Affairs Censorship Compliance Unit advise that the trends point towards the sexual abuse acts becoming more violent and that the children being abused are younger than previously.
3. To what extent is child sex tourism a problem in New Zealand?
Child sex tourism "...is the commercial sexual exploitation of children by foreigners, who travel from their own country to another usually less developed country to engage in sexual acts with children, or foreigners who engage in sexual activity with a child while overseas."
Child sex tourists include paedophiles, businessmen and travellers. Child sex tourism often involves a third party who procures a child from local communities.
Unfortunately most tourist destinations are also child sex destinations and New Zealanders are among those who take advantage of children whilst visiting other countries.
4. To what extent is the trafficking of children for sexual exploitation a problem in New Zealand?
Trafficking is defined as the transporting of a person from one place to another through means of deception, kidnapping, actual threatened or implied violence, and/or the abuse of individuals actual or perceived by a person in a position of authority e.g. immigration officer, police officer, etc.
An individual may be trafficked for the purposes of domestic employment, work in the commercial sex industry, manual labour, arranged marriage etc. The term trafficking implies a profit arises from the transportation of the child, which can occur across borders or within countries, across State lines, from city to city and from rural to urban areas.
The first people trafficking charges in NZ have been brought by Immigration New Zealand against two men over allegedly arranging the entry of 18 Indian nationals into the country, but both were found not guilty for people trafficking-related charges in Dec 2015.
5. 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.
6. What are the penalties for child sex offending in New Zealand?
Under the New Zealand Crimes Act 1961 anyone 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 same Act a person can be sentenced to 7 years for meeting a child (under 18 yrs) following sexual grooming.
Under the Film, Video and Publication Classification Act 1993 a person can be sentenced up to 10 years for possessing, distributing or importing material that is classed as objectionable.
3. Why should I report child pornography?
1. Does reporting child pornography help rescue children?
Pictures can sometimes provide clues to where perpetrators are. In November 2001, the ECPAT Hotline received a tip about a series of pictures posted in a news group. The pictures 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 pictures, the perpetrator could be identified and arrested within 24 hours and the child was placed in care.
That should have wrapped up the case. But a search of the man’s computer revealed extensive information about dissemination of child pornography and far reaching contacts with other 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 child pornography network linking several countries: the United States, UK, Denmark and Germany.
The operation succeeded in identifying and stopping more than 40 on-going sexual assaults on children. The paedophile and child pornography network was exposed. The case illustrates how a tiny detail in a picture 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
2. Who looks at child pornography in New Zealand?
The largest group of people caught viewing child pornography are teenage boys who are seldom prosecuted, the Department of Internal Affairs says.
There have been more than 200 convictions in New Zealand since 1993, and an additional 120 teenage boys have been caught offending since 1997, but only 20 had been prosecuted, the department’s gaming and censorship regulation director Keith Manch said today.
“The parents of young offenders are encouraged to access counseling through their GPs,” he told National Radio. “We are not aware of any of them having offended again.”
Many of the young offenders were experimenting and did not understand what they were looking at. “So it comes as a big shock to them and it certainly comes as a big shock to their parents.”
Department investigations resulted on average in more than two convictions a month and 30 cases were now before the courts, Mr Manch said earlier.
“Department inspectors have (also) provided intelligence reports that have led to many more convictions in Australia, the United States, Canada, Britain and Europe.” New Zealand has one of the most effective regimes in the world for detecting and tracking Internet users who have collected and distributed images of children being abused.
Source: DIA, Internet Traders Of Child Pornography: Profiling Research, October 2005
3. Do people who view child pornography sexually abuse children too?
In 2000, Hernandez investigated 62 online offenders. Although no one had any prior convictions for offline child abuse, during treatment 75 per cent disclosed that they had actually abused a child in the past. Startlingly, the average number of victims per offender was 30.
An NZ Dept of Internal Affairs study (2004) found that 10 per cent of 185 child sexual abuse image cases had prior convictions for offline child sexual abuse. These research findings suggest that there is at least a correlative relationship between accessing images online and sexually abusing children in the physical world.
Adult and adolescent sex offenders treatment providers, SAFE (www.safenz.org.nz) report evidence that supports this link through research arising from their adult cyber-offending programme. According to this research, 59 % of cyber-offenders had also abused children sexually; with two-thirds reporting they offended online before they offended in the physical world. Almost three-quarters of the clients, who are on SAFE’s cyber-offending programme are not mandated by the court to be part of it.”
Source: John McCarthy and Nathan Gaunt – SAFE, “Finding a link between online and offline sexual offending:” NetSafe Conference 2006
4. What should I do if …?
1. I am seeking help for child sexual exploitation issues?
The first contact should be with the Police and/or Children and Youth & Family Services (CYFS). They are trained and resourced to deal with this type of offending. You will need to provide substantive evidence to substantiate your complaint.
2. I find child pornography on a website or email?
Child ALERT offers a Hotline available to deal with this. It is a safe, free and anonymous way to effectively report websites suspected of containing objectionable material. Go to the Hotline page for details on how to use this very effective service.
3. I know someone who views child pornography?
Tell them they are breaking the law and that they can be prosecuted and convicted. If you consider a warning is not adequate and if you have evidence to support an official complaint make a report to the Police.
4. 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/
5. Can people who sexually abuse children stop?
Yes! Though in order to stop, people who sexually abuse children must want to change and must get specialist treatment.
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 and “tough love” of their friends and families, they are more likely to complete their treatment programme and live productive, abuse-free lives.
Treatment does not offer a “cure” for sexual offending but does provide people with the awareness and skills to prevent further offending if they choose to.
For further information on sex offending treatments, visit www.safenetwork.co.nz