This Convention is the first instrument to establish the various forms of sexual abuse of children as criminal offences, including such abuse committed in the home or family, with the use of force, coercion or threats.
Preventive measures outlined in the Convention include the screening, recruitment and training of people working in contact with children, making children aware of the risks and teaching them to protect themselves, as well as monitoring measures for offenders and potential offenders.
The Convention also establishes programmes to support victims, encourages people to report suspected sexual exploitation and abuse, and sets up telephone and internet helplines for children.
It also ensures that certain types of conduct are classified as criminal offences, such as engaging in sexual activities with a child below the legal age and child prostitution and pornography. The convention also criminalises the use of the new technologies the internet in particular to sexually harm or abuse children, for example by "grooming”, an increasingly worrying phenomenon of children being sexually harmed after meeting adults they have previously encountered in internet chat rooms or game sites.
With the aim of combating child sex tourism, the Convention establishes that individuals can be prosecuted for some offences even when the act is committed abroad.
The new legal tool also ensures that child victims are protected during judicial proceedings, for example with regard to their identity and privacy.
Its adoption is to be seen also in the context of the Programme run by the Council of Europe “Building a Europe for and with children”.