Available data suggest that about 1 in 5 children in Europe are victims of some form of sexual violence. It is estimated that in 70% to 85% of cases, the abuser is somebody the child knows and trusts. Child sexual violence can take many forms: sexual abuse within the family circle, child pornography and prostitution, corruption, solicitation via Internet and sexual assault by peers.

The phenomena of missing children has many links to sexual abuse and exploitation. Runaways who make up the majority of missing children cases, for example, often leave home or care institutions because of abusive situations, because of grooming, or end up becoming victims of abuse and exploitation once on the streets.

To this end Missing Children Europe supports collaborative projects and legislation to help combat child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Monitoring the Council of Europe LanzaroteConvention

The Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse is the first instrument to establish the various forms of sexual abuse of children as criminal offences, including such abuse committed in the home or within the family, with the use of force, coercion or threats. 

Missing Children Europe is part of the Lanzarote Committee. We support and advise the CoE on initiatives to be taken for the implementation of the convention in Europe. 

Preventive measures outlined in the Convention include the screening, recruitment and training of people working in contact with children, making children aware of the risks and teaching them to protect themselves, as well as monitoring measures for offenders and potential offenders.

The Convention’s objective is to protect children against any form of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. Every provision aims at preventing sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, protecting child victims of sexual offences and prosecuting perpetrators.


Previous projects

Together against sexual exploitation of children

“Together against sexual exploitation of children” is a project jointly run by Missing Children Europe, ECPAT International and eNACSO. The project focuses on identifying the manner in which 7 key provisions of EU Directive 2011/93/EU on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography has been transposed into national legislation by EU Member States that are bound by it (all 28 Member States except Denmark) by 18 December, 2013.

2014 saw the submission of 27 “national reports” by a number of prominent European law offices who offered their assistance on a pro bono basis, by a network of rapporteurs, coordinated by the European Law Students Association (ELSA) and by some of the member organisations of the NGOs coordinating the project.

The findings on 3 of the topics selected were presented and discussed at a workshop held in April 2015 which was attended by over 40 persons from the European Commission, legal practitioners, NGOs and permanent representatives from EU Member States.. Participants discussed findings from the survey that focused on the following topics:
> the criminalisation of “online grooming” activities,
> the measures taken to control the access of convicted sex offenders to professional or voluntary activities involving direct and regular contact with children and
> child friendly justice.

Find the presentations from the workshop here.

Read the "Survey on the transposition of Directive 2011/93/EU on combating sexual absue and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography" publication here.



European Financial Coalition

The European Financial Coalition against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Online (EFC) brings together key actors from law enforcement, the private sector and civil society in Europe with the common goal of fighting the commercial sexual exploitation of children online. Members of the EFC join forces to take action on the payment and information and communication technology (ICT) systems that are used to run these illegal operations.

While there is no doubt that sexual abuse and exploitation of children is a serious problem, there is a lack of accurate and reliable statistics on the nature of the phenomenon and the numbers of children involved. This is due mainly to the very significant under-reporting by victims on the one hand, and inadequate data collection mechanisms (including differences in national definitions of different child sexual abuse and exploitation offences) on the other. 

The following data may give an idea of its severity: 

  • According to a study performed by ECPAT in 2005, Cyberspace is home to more than one million images of tens of thousands of children being subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation.
  • According to the UNODC, the online child abuse industry generates an estimated 50,000 new child sexual abuse images each year and is worth USD 250 million globally. 
  • In 2011, the UK Internet Watch Foundation found that: 
    • 74% of the child victims appeared to be 10 years old and under. 
    • 64% of all the child sexual abuse URLs depicted sexual activity between adults and children including the rape and sexual torture of the children.The commercial distribution of images constitutes an average estimate of 20% of the total problem of sexual exploitation of children online. 

Since October 2015, the EFC Secretariat has moved back to Europol's EC3 division where it continues to be coordinated with the relevant actors including Missing Children Europe.

For more information on EFC, please visist the official website here