Adapting Barnahus processes for online sexual violence cases 

Promoting multidisciplinary and interagency service models for child victims and witnesses of online sexual violence

About

The PROMISE Barnahus Network is working to ensure the rights of an increasing number of presumed/identified child victims of online sexual violence to child-friendly justice, protection from violence and exploitation, and a safe path to recovery.

The aim of this work is to: (A) Contribute to competent and committed multidisciplinary teams equipped to provide a holistic and balanced intervention, including investigation and assistance (B) Support specialised professional interventions and operational capacity, adapted to the specific requirements and needs that may arise in the context of cases involving some form of online child sexual violence, and (C) Contribute key experience and learning from the project to regional policy development and exchange, in particular in light of ongoing EU Strategies relevant to the field, and proposed revision of EU instruments.

The main activities of the project will be to 1) implement and evaluate the effectiveness of protocols and procedures adapted to the specific requirements and needs that may arise concerning online child sexual violence, and 2) provide training in (a) building multidisciplinary teams and interagency collaboration in cases concerning online child sexual violence, and (b) specialised interventions including investigation, medical, therapeutic, crisis support and victim support. The project will furthermore include a strong element of child and youth participation.

These activities seek to ensure early identification, adequate assistance and protection, access to child-friendly justice, long-term assistance and social inclusion and durable solutions for children who are suspected of being trafficked (physical and online trafficking) by ensuring coordination of child protection and criminal justice proceedings in a child-centred, multidisciplinary manner. 

Background

A recent survey with Barnahus in seven European countries established that Barnahus have experienced an increase in cases that concern child sexual violence online or that have an online element.

Cases seen in Barnahus involved grooming and manipulation, children depicted in sexual violence material, including voluntary or forced sexual posing and distribution of nude pictures/films and pictures/films of children involved in sexual acts. Extortion and blackmail through different means were also common. Online child sexual violence covers a vast array of potential scenarios with varying levels of severity. However, research indicates a common misconception among professionals that online sexual violence results in less severe harm to children than other types of violence. Research and experience in Barnahus show that the impact of online abuse on the child can be as severe and, in some cases, more severe than offline abuse, especially in situations where perpetrators cannot be identified or where sexual images have been shared on social media.

Partners

World Childhood Foundation Germany (Coordinator)
AvBIT
CBSS Children at Risk
Charité
Child Circle
Childhood Haus Heidelberg (UKHD), Germany
Children 1st
HEUNI (The European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations)
National Children’s Advocacy Center USA

Funding

“PROMISE Elpis” is funded by the European Union through its Internal Security Fund (ISF) program.

Duration

1 Jan 2023 – 31 Dec 2024

Contact

Olivia Lind Haldorsson, Senior Adviser and Head of the CBSS Children at Risk Unit,

Phone: +46 73 056 45 92

Email: [email protected]