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Internet safety is the duty and responsibility of all its users

Safer Internet Day is celebrated on 7 February. This year, the focus in Slovenia is on the issue of inappropriate online content. Children are among the most at-risk users of the internet, mainly because of their youth, inexperience, curiosity and naivety.

The internet is a great place for children and adolescents to play, learn and connect. Smart devices have many advantages, such as facilitating education, social contact and information, but they also bring with them many opportunities for abuse and violence of all kinds. All children who use the internet can be put in a risky and dangerous situation by their various online activities.

Children are among the most at-risk internet users

Children are among the most at-risk users of the internet, mainly because of their youth, inexperience, curiosity and naivety. They can fall victim to a variety of online abuses while using online apps, social networks, email, websites, forums and playing computer games. Social networks are also used by people who take advantage of children's vulnerability for unlawful financial gain or to abuse them.

Parents have a big role to play here, especially in preventing online violence and the online sexual abuse of their children.

Detecting online sexual abuse is a police priority

Prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of online sexual abuse remains a police priority in 2023.

Child sexual abuse is one of the most serious crimes, with far-reaching and serious life consequences for its victims. In recent years, especially during the epidemic, there has been an increase in the number of reports of child sexual abuse detected online. In spite of this, much of the abuse remains unreported.

Internet service providers have a central role to play in the effective fight against online sexual abuse and the  exploitation of children. This is because investigators cannot carry out effective investigations without working closely with the providers, which are best placed to detect child sexual abuse cases on their platforms. Child sexual abuse can take place in both physical and online environments, but today most of these cases have at least some online component (online sharing of abusive material, grooming, viewing material that can lead to the physical abuse of children). Most cases of child sexual abuse are dealt with on the basis of voluntary reports from online providers.

Slovenian detectives and police officers are involved in various prevention programmes. Internationally, they are involved in the Say No! campaign, which draws attention to child sexual abuse on the internet. This primarily includes awareness-raising events for secondary, primary and kindergarten headteachers, but also school-based lectures for students, teachers and schools.

Information on internet safety and abuse prevention is available on police websites and social media profiles. The police also work with the media and organisations to film awareness-raising content that highlights the issue of child sexual abuse, encourages reporting and provides guidance on how to recognise sexual abuse and how children can protect themselves.