Reports of online sexual exploitation of children skyrocket during lockdown

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 25) — Reports of children being sexually exploited online more than tripled in the last three months while several portions of the country were on lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, according to the Department of Justice.

The DOJ said it has received 279,166 reports of child sexual exploitation online from March to May from the United States-based non-profit organization National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or the NCMEC.

This is 264.63 percent higher compared to the same period last year, when the DOJ received 76,561 reports from the NCMEC, which is allowed by US law to receive reports from electronic communication service providers like Facebook and Gmail.

The department said the spike in the number of reports can be attributed to the surge in internet usage as most people stayed at home during the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.

But it said that not all reports from the NCMEC were actual cases of online sexual exploitation of children as there were some redundant and inaccurate reports, and some nude photos of children shared in good faith by parents or relatives were also flagged.

The DOJ said that from March 15 to May 21, seven suspects have been arrested in 10 operations for involvement in the sexual exploitation of children online and 34 children have been rescued. Four suspects are currently facing inquest proceedings, while two are on trial.