Crimes against children

Crimes against children tend to be local crimes with the vast majority taking place within the home or family circle.  There are, however, a number of areas where there is an international angle:  

  • Internet crimes: crimes against children are facilitated by the Internet, the increased use of which in recent years has led to a huge rise in offending. Not only can offenders distribute and access child abuse material more easily, but they can also come into direct contact with children – via chatrooms and social networking sites. We run a project in conjunction with Internet Access Service Providers to block access to child abuse material online
  • Travelling sex offenders: also known as “sex tourism”, this type of crime involves the abuse of children in developing countries by people who travel there. The relative wealth of the offender coupled with lack of understanding or effective legislation means that the abuse of children is easier in these countries. This type of crime is linked to child trafficking, organized crime and murder.

These types of crimes represent a huge challenge for police worldwide and require specialized skills and increased resources. At INTERPOL, we encourage investigators around the world to make maximum use of our tools and services.

  • Victim identification: we work to identify the victims of child sexual abuse depicted in photographs and films. This involves a combination of traditional investigative methods and image analysis. Crucial to this work is the International Child Sexual Exploitation image database which uses sophisticated image comparison software to make connections between victims and places.
  • Yellow Notices: at the request of a member country, INTERPOL can issue a yellow notice to help locate missing persons, especially minors. These notices are circulated on an international basis and recorded in INTERPOL's database of missing and abducted children.

We also provide training and promote best practice to police in our member countries. We bring together experts in the INTERPOL Specialists Group on Crimes against Children. Formed in 1992, this group consists of a number of sub-groups dealing with particular issues and chaired by investigators from around the world.

In addition, we work closely with many other agencies, both governmental and non governmental, in this area and are involved in many training programmes and other projects worldwide. In particular, we work in partnership with CIRCAMP (the COSPOL Internet Related Child Abuse Material Project) and the Virtual Global Taskforce.

It is worth noting that we avoid using the term "child pornography" when describing images of sexual abuse of children. Other, more appropriate terminology includes the term "child sexual abuse material".


INTERPOL's International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database

8 steps to identifying victims of child sexual abuse