Addressing technology facilitated child sexual abuse: The role of legislation in prevention and intervention

Ms Carol Ronken1, Dr Melissa Curley2, Ms Cassandra Seery3

1Bravehearts, Arundel, Australia
2University of Queensland , St Lucia, Australia
3Deakin University, Geelong , Australia

Online child sexual exploitation has been a growing focus of research over the past few years. The use of live streaming technologies to facilitate the sexual abuse of children is an increasingly important issue both domestically and internationally.

A 2017 ECPAT International report noted that the sexual exploitation of children in Southeast Asian countries “is a product of the complex interplay between a range of historical, cultural, social and economic factors occurring on the global, regional, national and local levels”, and where parents are led to abuse their children due to the impact of poverty.  Research on the financial transactions of Australians viewing live streamed child sexual abuse (Brown, Napier & Smith, 2020) demonstrated that this is a global issue and a concern for Australia. While evidence suggests that Australia’s extraterritorial laws pertaining to the sexual exploitation of children abroad have been successfully used in prosecutions (Curley, 2019), a comprehensive overview of their application in relation to live streaming of the sexual abuse of vulnerable children abroad has not been undertaken. Currently, there is little empirical research on live streaming of sexual abuse to inform an evidence-based approach to prevention and response as it relates to both consumers and facilitators.

This current research is focused on developing an understanding of the current legislative responses to live streaming and how these may facilitate the prevention of technology facilitated child sexual abuse in vulnerable populations in Southeast Asia. Specifically, the research objectives are to:

  1. Review, and identify gaps in, domestic and extraterritorial legislation introduced to address live streaming offending.
  2. Undertake a case law analysis to assess the application of legislation.
  3. Review international or regional conventions directly related to addressing live streaming of sexual abuse and how countries engage with these.
  4. Make recommendations for the strengthening of legislation and other international cooperative measures, to better address, and facilitate the prevention of, technology facilitated child sexual abuse.


Carol Ronken is Bravehearts’ Research Director, spending over 18 years researching sexual abuse/exploitation a. Carol currently holds position as Visiting Fellow in the School of Justice, Faculty of Law, at Queensland University of Technology. She is a member of several working groups, including the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation Research Working Group, the Twitter Trust and Safety Council (Australia) and the Australian Child Rights Taskforce. Her professional memberships include the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and the Child Protection Practitioners Association of Queensland.


Dec 09 2021