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Safe Online awards $10M to 23 new grantees

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In a significant stride toward safeguarding children in the digital age, Safe Online is making a $10 million investment across 23 projects aimed at combatting online child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) and related digital harms.   

Online digital harm is increasing at an alarming rate exposing children to unprecedented risks. As per the latest Childlight data, one case of online child abuse is reported every second.  

The Internet Watch Foundation noted 2023 as a ‘record year’ for child sexual abuse with an 8 per cent increase in the number of child sexual abuse imagery found online from the previous year. New and emerging technologies like Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Extended Reality (ER) are turbocharging the rate of abuse, generating child sexual abuse material at a scale and speed never seen before.   

To combat the growing threats in the digital space, Safe Online launched a global call for proposals in 2023. After a rigorous selection process, 23 grantees have been selected to receive USD 10 million.  

These 23 new projects, from across the world, are poised to achieve maximum impact by supporting work across multiple sectors to protect children from online harms.  

The projects aim to strengthen systems, key infrastructure and services and create incentives for action through changing norms, policies and regulations.  

Projects will create and promote a global evidence base to support the ecosystem and develop innovative tools to reduce barriers to access to cutting-edge technologies in the online safety space and promote tools that are shareable, adaptable and create efficiencies in online CSEA prevention and response efforts at all levels.   

Grantees include international organisations, child protection NGOs, and CSOs, research and tech organisations. They include a range of innovative projects, from looking at the vulnerability of children in crisis situations to online sexual abuse and developing educational resources for protection. 

One project explores the link between online scamming call centres and the financial sexual extortion of minors. Another focuses on developing advanced tech tools for helplines to better understand and combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA), making counsellors more effective in protecting children. Additionally, some projects are developing tools for law enforcement to respond to and prevent online abuse. 

The new investment grows Safe Online’s investment portfolio to USD 100 million across 106 projects with impact in 100 countries and accelerates Safe Online’s globally important role as a catalyst for new solutions to combat digital harms.   

“Safe Online is the only global investment vehicle dedicated to keeping children safe in the digital world,” Safe Online Executive Director Marija Manojlovic. 

“With these new investments, we are empowering changemakers worldwide to create a safer, brighter online future for every child.” 

“Together, we are not just responding to online harms – we are reengineering the internet for the next generation,” added Manojlovic. 

With the launch of the new awardees, Safe Online has announced another global Open Call for $ 5 million.  

To invest most effectively in the most burning issues in the online CSEA ecosystem, the 2024 Open Call is focused on innovation and high impact.

Related: Child protection group uses software to stop child exploitation materials  

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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