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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand