ZEHBRAUSKAS_ELSALVADOR73

[NAME CHANGED] On 17 April 2016, Diana, 17, holds her mother’s hand as her mother embraces her in their home in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. Diana began dating at the age of 14. Her boyfriend, then 17, asked her for nude photos and he would sext his own nude photos to her as well. When she eventually broke up with him, he was very angry, and created a page on a social media site with her nude photos, sending the links to her friends and family. Diana and her mother reported the incident to the police and had the site blocked, a process that took about 8 hours. The police, however, blamed Diana for her own participation in the exchange of photos, and Diana and her mother ultimately dropped the case in frustration. Six months later, an investigating officer contacted Diana and her mother and explained that Diana’s photographs had appeared on an online pornography site in Europe. The case was re-opened when the police found on the boy’s computer, inappropriate photos of another minor girl. Diana has since deleted her social media account and is a strong advocate for online safety.

Worldwide, children make up one-third of all Internet users. With the rapid expansion of Internet and communication technologies, protecting children online is an urgent global priority. In El Salvador, with a population of nearly 6.4 million in 2014, more than 30 per cent of children under the age of 15 use the Internet. Among El Salvadorian youth between the ages of 15-24, more than 40 per cent have access to computers at home with Internet access. Increasing numbers of children are using multiple social media platforms to maintain virtual contact with friends and strangers.. Children’s vulnerability to online sexual abuse and exploitation manifests itself in various forms including: cyber bullying and Internet harassment; exposure to sexually explicit content; sexting (sending and receiving sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone); sexual solicita