Examining legal and policy frameworks regarding online child exploitation materials

Dr Julianne Webster, Dimity Thoms,

School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University

Broadly speaking the UN convention on the rights of the child is concerned with the best interests of the child in all actions. Articles 9 and 34 state all appropriate measures must be taken to protect children from maltreatment or exploitation and article 34 states that all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures must be taken to prevent children from being made to carry out unlawful sexual activities, in prostitution or in pornographic performances. The presence of this and related UN conventions (basic principles of justice victims; rights of the child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography) provide the policy frameworks and principles which set the scene for global responses to evidence of very significant abuses of children, including in online environments. Whilst the conventions obligations to signatory countries are based on sound evidence about the nature of the problem and the need for a global response, the rate and specifics surrounding adoption of laws and policies which operationalise these conventions is less well understood. This paper summarises the legal and policy responses to online child exploitation material and addresses the question of prevention in the response framework.


Dr Webster’s research interests are in policing and cyber criminology. Her research examines victims, offending processes and trajectories, responses and explanations for cyber crime.


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