Child sexual abuse is a serious crime that can cause long term physical, psychological and social harm to the victim. According to Internet Watch Foundation, Europe was the global leader in hosting child sexual abuse imagery in 20191 , demonstrating that a lot of work needs to be done to fight child sexual abuse and protect children in Europe. Lumos therefore welcomes the European Commission’s initiative for an EU Strategy to fight child sexual abuse. In order to have a Strategy which is as effective as possible, it should address all forms of sexual abuse in different settings and promote the different ways in which abuse can be prevented.
Evidence-based research demonstrates that children that are not protected by a family or family-based environment, such as children living in residential institutions, including so-called “orphanages”, residential special schools and reception centers that accommodate unaccompanied children on the move, are particularly vulnerable and at high risk of sexual abuse. The development of family- and community based care is essential to ensure that children are protected, and their rights are upheld.
The link between institutionalisation and child sexual abuse has been outlined in this paper, alongside a set of recommendations to the Strategy.