Report: ”I was just looking, I didn’t do anything bad”

AT ECPAT SWEDEN (ECPAT) we decided to call our annual online survey “Nude Online”. In this survey children and young people share with us their experiences and knowledge of sexual offences on the internet. In last year’s survey there was a large increase in the number of children who told us about the phenomenon of so-called “expose accounts”. These are anonymous accounts on social media, or online forum threads, where children share sexual content and naked images of other children. It quickly became clear to us that this is a crime in which most of the victims and those who victimise are children. We also realised that
children who expose others by sharing this type of content are rarely aware that they are committing a sexual offence, and that they mainly see it as digital form harassment and bullying. When ECPAT in 2022, for the third consecutive year, conducted the “Nude Online” survey, we decided to include a deeper dive section to focus specifically on expose accounts to gather information about this new phenomenon.

The digital gap between children and adults is profound in terms of what adults know about children’s exploration of sexuality online. When it comes to expose accounts, the gap is an abyss. The more we learned about expose accounts the more we understood how urgent it is for the adult world to know about this in order to act and prevent children from being victimised in this way. Being exposed can have far-reaching and devastating effects on children’s and young people’s wellbeing and mental health. If the adult world does not come together and act immediately, expose accounts will likely become normalised and create an internet culture where children can degrade and stalk each other in a climate where there is no accountability and minimal risk of punishment. We know that children are experts of their own situations and that it is vital for adults to listen to children’s
experiences to learn what their everyday lives are like. We also know that a large part of their lives is played out online.

Children’s own experiences form the basis for this report and have enabled it to be written. Using an iterative method – with children in most instances leading the way – we have found a way to reach children and young people on their own terms.
The results have been overwhelming. In the 2022 edition of Nude Online, 13,433 children between the ages of 10 and 17 participated. We want to sincerely thank all of the children and young people who have so courageously shared their experiences and their knowledge with us.

We will safeguard the trust you have placed in us! We hope that this report will provide parents, teachers, counsellors or other key adults in children’s lives with knowledge and materials as a basis for discussion. Based on the long-term consequences
that victimisation of children on the internet can have, we hope that politicians and decision-makers will prioritise and allocate resources to tackle this problem.

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