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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Internet facilitating global child abuse

January 17th, 2014
03:02 PM ET

29 people have been arrested for paying to watch children as young as six years old being abused on live webcam. These arrests are part of a global effort named 'Operation Endeavour', designed to break a paedophile ring operating out of the Philippines.

Many experts say that easy access to videos and images of sexually abused children are one of the main factors driving the rise of child exploitation. In 1990 in the UK the estimated number of indecent images of children in the country stood at 7,000. By 1999 that had reached 41,000. Today, that number is in the millions. In one case the police confiscated 4 million images from a single offender.

Jim Gamble, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, spoke to Jonathan Mann on Connect the World about how the movement online has increased the levels of child abuse.

"A number of years ago they'd have travelled to Cambodia or Laos or the Philippines. Now they can travel to those countries where children are vulnerable because of the deprivations that they face, and their parents are desperate, to access them via webcam from what they perceive as the safety of their own home.

Gamble also praised the work of the UK police force, who kicked off this investigation. "Professional detectors will say 'always clear the ground beneath your feet'. This case came to pass because Northamptonshire Police, a small police force in the UK, did their job properly around defender management. They visited the home of a guy they knew was on the sex offenders register, they checked his laptop. So they were able to come in from that end and work through and see who he'd been talking to and what videos he had accessed, because he was copying them and sharing them. So they then took that to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in the UK, who coordinated the global response."

He also emphasized that more priority needs to be placed on protecting children. "We've got to turn the tables on these predators so that they fear going online. We need more undercover activity taking place from our international law enforcement partners."

"In a world where law enforcement activity is prioritized on the basis of terrorism, of drugs, and organized criminal activity, we've got to bring the child to the top of that pile. We've got to see the right type of concerted effort, so that similar to the war we fight on terrorism we need to fight this war against child abuse, and we can only do that if we are ruthless and sustained in our approach to ridding the world of these individuals who sit in the comfort of their dirty back rooms, reaching out and harming children and then sharing the abuse with other likeminded individuals."

Text: Investigation busts online sex abuse ring targeting children in Philippines

Video: 29 arrested in child porn investigation

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