Appropriate terminology

At INTERPOL, we support the use of appropriate terminology to avoid trivializing the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

Definitions and terms are slowly changing as legislation is revised and the victims are given better protection and rights. Also, new forms of abuse are emerging and, with them, the need for new and accurate terminology.

Serious crime, serious definition

Children who have been sexually abused and photographed or filmed deserve to be protected and respected, and not have the seriousness of their abuse reduced by the use of terms such as "porn".

Pornography is a term used for adults engaging in consensual sexual acts distributed (mostly) legally to the general public for their sexual pleasure.

Child abuse images involve children who cannot and would not consent and who are victims of a crime.

Terms such as "kiddy porn" and "child porn" are used by criminals and should not be legitimate language used by law enforcement, judiciary, the public or media.

Legislation in some countries, or even the departments dealing with child sexual abuse within the police, may use terms like "child pornography", making the term difficult to avoid. However, we encourage the law enforcement community to contribute to a cultural change by being precise in the way that such crimes are described.

Recommended terminology

A set of international guidelines makes precise recommendations on appropriate terminology in this area.

  • Terms to be used with caution, or avoided completely, include 'child pornography', 'child sex tourism' and 'child prostitution'
  • More appropriate terms are ‘child sexual abuse’, ‘sexual exploitation of children in the context of travel and tourism’ and ‘exploitation of children in/for prostitution’. 

The development of harmonized and internationally recognized terminology is essential, particularly in the context of victim identification, in order to strengthen data collection and cooperation across agencies, sectors and countries.

INTERPOL will implement these guidelines as best practice and recommend their use to law enforcement across the globe.

18 novembre 2016

Guidelines for protecting child sexual abuse victims endorsed at INTERPOL meeting

14 juin 2016

INTERPOL souscrit au nouveau Guide de terminologie sur l’exploitation sexuelle des enfants et les abus pédosexuels

30 mars 2016

Internationally wanted paedophile behind bars thanks to swift police action by Cambodia and Belgium via INTERPOL

15 décembre 2015

Les forums d’agresseurs pédosexuels sur Internet visés par une opération coordonnée par INTERPOL

18 novembre 2015

Rescuing online child sexual abuse victims spotlighted at INTERPOL meeting

16 novembre 2015

INTERPOL soutient l’appel à suivre le modèle d’intervention national proposé au sommet #WePROTECT pour lutter contre les abus pédosexuels

05 novembre 2015

L’Assemblée générale d’INTERPOL approuve le projet proposé pour l’avenir de l’Organisation

04 novembre 2015

Rwandan programme to tackle gender-based violence spotlighted at INTERPOL General Assembly

23 septembre 2015

INTERPOL et le FBI resserrent leurs liens dans la lutte contre le terrorisme et la cybercriminalité

16 septembre 2015

INTERPOL réunit des experts pour un échange de bonnes pratiques en matière de lutte contre la « sextorsion »

25 juin 2015

Official visit to INTERPOL by Frances Fitzgerald, Ireland’s Minister for Justice and Equality

14 avril 2015

L’action menée au niveau mondial pour identifier via INTERPOL les victimes d’abus pédosexuels renforcée par un outil de Microsoft

20 février 2015

Togo police arrest suspected child rapist accused of kidnapping two girls from Benin

INTERPOL's International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database

8 steps to identifying victims of child sexual abuse