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2023 Conference

2023 Conference

Our 2023 conference saw more than 90 people committed to preventing technology-assisted child sexual abuse, and supporting recovery of victims, come together to share learning. Over two days, participants were able to take time to consider the real impact of these issues on the children they live and work with. 

The jam-packed event at BT Tower was opened by Marie Collins Foundation CEO Vicki Green, who urged those attending “to not be overwhelmed by the statistics they will hear or the emerging threats that technology poses to children and young people, but to focus on making a difference to one child at a time”. Helen Burrows then made an audience address where she reiterated BT Group’s commitment to the fight against TACSA. 

On the first morning attendees heard from leading academics in the field. Elena Martellozzo, Associate Professor in Criminology at Middlesex University and Associate Director of the Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies discussed the prevalence and accessibility of pornography and the impact this has on children and adolescents.  

This was followed by a discussion between Jonathan Baggaley, Chief Executive of the National PSHE Association and MCF’s Lived Experience Group, who spoke about the impact of pornography from a victim and survivor perspective. Associate Professor Michael Salter, from the University of New South Wales, then shared his in-depth research into the characteristics of sex offenders and how they operate online in the UK, US and Australia.  

After hearing from academics, Chris Hughes took to the stage to speak about the development of financial extortion of children online and other sexual abuse trends highlighted through work carried out at the Internet Watch Foundation. Day one closed with an impactful session on preventing burnout and compassion fatigue in professionals by Catherine Knibbs, a Human Behaviour Technologist.  

Our second day of conference was kicked off with a powerful session from MCF’s Victim and Survivor Advocate Megan Hinton, who shared her lived experience of technology-assisted child sexual abuse and asked hard hitting questions to Simon Bailey QPM, DL, CBE, who offered his expert opinion. This was followed by a presentation from T/Detective Andy Marsh who offered an insight into offender misuse of emerging technologies from a law enforcement perspective. 

The Senior Director of Community Safety and Civility at Roblox, Laura Higgins, then spoke about the importance of safety by design for online platforms and authentic youth involvement in designing safety features. The audience also heard from award-winning film maker, Akhim Dev, who spoke about how 'The Children in the Pictures' has become the Australian Federal Police’s phrase to describe online victims of abuse in their press releases after the release of his documentary. Dr Sharon Cooper brought the conference to a close after dialling in from America to discuss the polyvictimisation of child sexual exploitation.  

In between the keynote sessions attendees had the opportunity to take part in interactive workshops. These workshops explored a range of topics including, how LGBTQ+ youth are navigating risks of sexual exploitation online, online misogyny, and best practice when supporting the families of alleged CSA offenders.  Attendees also heard directly from victims and survivors who shared their opinions and expertise on a range of topics including the long-term impact of sexual abuse and the unseen fallout from familial abuse. Parents affected by technology-assisted child sexual abuse also shared learning on how to advocate for children and their families after disclosure or discovery.   

The conference was a huge success with 100% of delegates either ‘extremely satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with the event and 100% agreeing that they would attend a MCF conference again.  

“Thank you once again for a most informative conference that will certainly be transformative in our own professional safeguarding work in Tower Hamlets.” - Delegate 

“We really valued being able to attend the conference and gain more insight into the incredible work already being done but also the huge challenges faced.  The care you put in to planning and providing support for those attending was very evident.” - Delegate 

"It felt as if I was in a room surrounded by critical friends, all driven by a shared desire to collaborate and make this world a safer and better place for children. This 2-day event was brimming with energy, filled with exceptional individuals, and enriched by an extraordinary knowledge. What made it even more significant was the diverse range of voices.” – Delegate  


The growing financial sexual extortion of our children online, and other trends

Chris Hughes, Internet Watch Foundation

Unveiling the Digital Temptation: Investigating the Impact of Online Pornography on Children and Adolescents

Dr Elena Martellozzo, Middlesex University London

Prevalence, risk factors and internet use characteristics of online child sex offenders operating in the Australian, U.S, and U.K general population

Michael Salter, University of New South Wales

Harnessing Safety and Civility in Immersive Online Spaces

Laura Higgins, Roblox Senior Director of Community Safety & Civility

When Virtual Trauma impacts the viewer and listener. Preventing Burnout, Compassion Fatigue and PTS in professionals and children

Catherine Knibbs, Human Behaviour Technologist and Cybertrauma Expert

The Children in the Pictures

Akhim Dev, Director

Speaking Truth to Power

Megan Hinton, Victim and Survivor Advocate Marie Collins Foundation 

Simon Bailey, CBE, QPM, DL, Chair of Policing Institute for the Eastern Region

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