Child sexual abuse and the distribution of pedophilic material on the internet has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic by over 50% the USA and in some European countries, Europol director Catherine de Bolle said.

The spike is a result of a greater online presence of both criminals and victims. Amid coronavirus restrictions, children are forced to spend more time online to socialize and study.

The lockdown shifted children’s daily activities to the virtual world, the Europol chief said.

“To give you real figures, it is difficult, but for instance for the child sexual abuse online and the distribution of child sexual abuse material, there we see in some countries with a 50 percent or even more during the pandemic,” she added regarding the past year.

From the Europol headquarters in The Hague, De Bolle stressed the importance of prevention measures against child sexual abuse, urging the European Union to launch campaigns to raise awareness.