Otago Daily Times
Child sexual exploitation on the rise
WELLINGTON: A group fighting against the sexual exploitation of children says the problem has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic.
Children’s rights group Ecpat NZ said the conviction of Aaron Joseph Hutton last week showed child exploitation could be closer to home than many people realised.
Hutton pleaded guilty last year, and on Friday, in the Auckland District Court, was sentenced to five years’ jail.
The 36yearold admitted trying to buy a child for sexual exploitation, and possessing hundreds of explicit images.
Ecpat director Eleanor Parkes said online sexual exploitation of children had been on the rise in the past year, due to increased time spent online through the pandemic.
‘‘It’s been a problem for a long time and it’s been on the increase, but we definitely are seeing increasing vulnerability to this type of online sexual exploitation because of Covid, and because of the lockdowns.
‘‘People are spending more time online — both perpetrators and potential victims,’’ Ms Parkes said
Ecpat’s prevention efforts focused equally on young males and females, she said.
‘‘It’s really important that we do look at both boys and girls . . . in terms of the number of young people who are sexually exploited, it’s more like twothirds of them are girls, but some of the forms of exploitation that happen to boys are the most extreme forms of exploitation.’’
About 55% of victims met their traffickers through social media, Ecpat’s website said. — RNZ