Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Child Sexual Abuse: Protecting Children Across Borders

Full Story:
An overhaul of EU legislation to protect children from travelling sex offenders and to help identify the victims of abuse images is demanded by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Save the Children Europe Group today. The lack of inter-country information-sharing about child sex offenders was highlighted in 2004 by the case of convicted serial killer Michel Fourniret who was able to travel from France to Belgium, where he got a job in a school and continued to commit offences. The NSPCC is calling for an improved system of sharing criminal records between EU Member States to prevent offenders gaining employment in countries that are unaware of their backgrounds. Dame Mary Marsh, the charity’s Director and Chief Executive, who will unveil findings from its latest report* into this issue at a Brussels conference, ‘Protecting Children Across Borders’ tomorrow (28th), said: “We need a simple system that allows an education or health authority in Manchester to ensure a potential employee from Madrid or Marseilles is not a danger to children. We live in a high-tech world so this kind of information should be just a click away.” The growing problem of identifying children who feature in online abuse images will also be discussed at the conference by experts from Save the Children, Interpol and Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. Although Interpol has intercepted abuse images of more than 20,000 individual children, fewer than 600 of them have been identified. Vernon Jones from Save the Children said: “We must never forget that a child has actually been sexually abused to produce one of these horrific images. It is therefore vital that we find out who they are and give them the protection and ongoing support they urgently need. “These are issues that can only be tackled with high level political support, harmonised legislation and close co-operation between European Member States. Sex abuse images can be intercepted in one country but may have emanated from another. “Child abuse has no nationality, so by demanding international harmonised legislation, NSPCC and Save the Children hope to forge a path towards better child protection in a border-free Europe.”

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