9 Important Child Safety Terms to Know

Understand these words so that you can know what to look out for and report to authorities with confidence

LISTEN:

This article discusses sensitive topics such as sexual harms that may not be suitable for children.

The child protection field uses a lot of words many people might not understand. While that’s true of any sector (looking at you, gaming!), this complexity can add unnecessary anxiety around reporting real or suspected harm against children. We want to clear up what some of those terms are so you can discuss and report with confidence.

We recently released a step-by-step guide on how to report child harms to NCMEC, but you still might have questions about what words to use to describe what you're seeing and experiencing. As a member of the WePROTECT Global Alliance, we are committed to combating child harms online and supporting you with this challenge on your Minecraft server.

Talking with the rest of your server staff, moderators, and helpers is important for making sure that all eyes understand the severe harms and behaviors to watch for. This can be a tough topic to discuss, so feel free to take it slow and one step at a time. Today we're taking another small step and discussing simple words and language that you can use.

You do not need to become a child protection policy expert to do your part to keep kids safer online. We’ve pulled together the 9 most important (in our humble opinion) terms that you’ll come across in the child protection space and want to use when discussing these topics with your Minecraft server team.

These 9 words will help you do three important things:

  1. Know what to keep an eye out for
  2. Understand reporting terminology
  3. Have the confidence to submit a report

While some of these terms might seem obvious to you, it's important to bring this topic to your team members without judgement if they don't know them. If you need help discussing and navigating these hard conversations in a more accessible way, feel free to reach out to us on our GS4MC Discord Guild.

The following includes excerpts from the Luxembourg Terminology Guidelines for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse with additional commentary from our team.

9 Child Safety Terms

Child:

Any person who is under the age of 18 years.


Child Pornography (CP):

"Child Pornography", sometimes abbreviated as "CP", is not the best way to describe sexually explicit images of children, as the term is similar to adult pornography which is legal and consensual. A child can never consent to the production of sexually explicit material of themselves–which is abuse.

The Child Protection field has stopped using CP in discussions, research, articles, and other materials. An important caveat is that laws take a very long time to change–for this reason you still find “child pornography” referred to in legal texts, criminal prosecution, and many reporting portals. Don’t be confused! CP is a legal term, CSAM is what we prefer to say out loud.

See "Child Sexual Abuse Material" below. This term is used to describe child sexual abuse material, but also to describe the offences of producing/preparing, consuming, sharing/spreading/disseminating, or possessing such material.


Child Sexual Abuse (CSA):

Child sexual abuse is a broad category that, at its core, defines the harm caused to children by forcing or coercing them to engage in sexual activity, whether they are aware of what is happening or not. Furthermore, child sexual abuse can take the form of both contact and non-contact abuse.


Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM):

The term “Child Sexual Abuse Material” is increasingly being used to replace the term “Child Pornography”. This switch of terminology is based on the argument that sexualised material that depicts or otherwise represents children is always a form of child sexual abuse, and should not be described as “pornography”**

"CSAM" (pronounced See-Sam) is the preferred way to refer to what was formerly known as ‘Child Pornography.” Please see section F.4i in the Luxembourg Terminology Guidelines for an expanded discussion on the nuances of this term.


Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE):

A child is a victim of sexual exploitation when they take part in a sexual activity in exchange for something (e.g. gain or benefit, or even the promise of such) from a third party, the perpetrator, or by the child themself. A child may be coerced into a situation of sexual exploitation through physical force or threats.

However, they may also be persuaded to engage in such sexual activity as a result of more complex and nuanced factors, either human or situational, including a power imbalance between the victim and the perpetrator.


Enticement:

Enticement of children [for sexual purposes] is sometimes used as a synonym of the “solicitation of children for sexual purposes” or “grooming.”


Sextortion:

Sexual extortion, also called “sextortion”, is the blackmailing of a person with the help of self-generated images of that person in order to extort sexual favours, money, or other benefits from her/him under the threat of sharing the material beyond the consent of the depicted person (e.g. posting images on social media).

Often, the influence and manipulation typical of groomers over longer periods of time (sometimes several months) turns into a rapid escalation of threats, intimidation, and coercion once the person has been persuaded to send the first sexual images of themself.


Solicitation:

The solicitation of children for sexual purposes is often referred to as “grooming” or “online grooming”. It can be described as a practice by means of which an adult “befriends” a child (often online, but offline grooming also exists and should not be neglected) with the intention of sexually abusing them.


Grooming:

In the context of child sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, “grooming” is the short name for the solicitation of children for sexual purposes. “Grooming/online grooming” refers to the process of establishing/building a relationship with a child either in person or through the use of the Internet or other digital technologies to facilitate either online or offline sexual contact with that person.

Grooming, Sextortion, Solicitation, and Enticement are all BIG terms that mean similar things. They all boil down to an adult using various methods to coerce, threaten, befuddle, or encourage children to engage in sexual activity (which is abuse). The resulting abuse can take place online or off. While it’s always CSA, it may or may not be CSE.

You've Got This!

Seriously, you're doing a great job by learning about this topic in more depth and understanding the common terms used in the field to identify harms and protect children. We are so proud to have people such as yourself making this topic an important part of how they manage their Minecraft server communities, and we look forward to continuing this great effort alongside you.

Thank you so much to guest contributor on this article Santana Inniss, a senior digital leader with experience in the intersection of technology and safety.

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