The Out of the Shadows Index (OOSI) is the first global benchmark looking at how countries are addressing child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA). An Ignite Philanthropy research programme, designed and developed by Economist Impact, the index examines how stakeholders are preventing and responding to CSEA in 60 countries, which covers approximately 85% of the global child population.
The OOSI focuses on how stakeholders are approaching the problem at the national level, as governments seek to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include a target (16.2) to end all forms of violence against children by 2030. It explores the environment in which CSEA occurs and is addressed; the degree to which a country’s legal framework provides protections for children from sexual violence; whether government commitment and capacity is being deployed to equip institutions and personnel to respond appropriately; and the engagement of industry, civil society and media in efforts to tackle the problem. Where possible, it aims to track the implementation and monitoring of these actions.
The findings and analysis of the index will help build the framework for a holistic, government-led and civil society and private sector-supported approach to ending child sexual abuse around the world.
The first iteration of the OOSI, released in 2019, focused on responses to CSEA. It looked across government, civil society and private sector initiatives to understand how countries were developing laws, programmes and interventions to support victim-survivors and offenders. This second iteration takes this assessment a step further: it looks across efforts to both prevent and respond to CSEA, building the framework for a holistic, government-led approach that is supported by civil society and the private sector.
Throughout our assessment, the question driving the OOSI framework has been “what does a holistic approach to combating CSEA look like?” The focus is on the governance architecture of every country and how each addresses the complexity of CSEA. The index’s framework therefore recognises the role played by structural factors: from the education sector to the justice system, CSEA prevention and response is inter-sectoral and requires a wide political and societal effort. The index is organised around two governance dimensions: prevention and response. Each dimension is supported by a number of pillars. The prevention dimension comprises protective legislation, policy and programmes, and national capacity and commitment pillars. The response dimension comprises support services and recovery, and justice process.
The changes in the OOSI framework, reflected in this 2022 edition and findings, are the result of attempts to provide a more holistic understanding of how countries are addressing CSEA and to hold governments to a higher standard. Specifically, the 2022 iteration has integrated a more nuanced assessment of prevention, especially around the comprehensiveness of protective legislation and the provision of education to prevent CSEA.
Using feedback from governments and civil society organisations, interviews with CSEA experts, as well as an extensive literature review and data audit process, Economist Impact has developed a framework to measure how holistic a country’s efforts are.
The index uses over a hundred indicators, grouped into five categories across two pillars, to measure the extent to which countries are implementing measures to prevent and respond to CSEA.
The Prevention Pillar looks at legislation, policies and programmes, and a country’s capacity and commitment to understand the scope of the problem and build effective prevention measures. The Response Pillar takes into account both government-led and civil society support systems. It also measures the capacity of the justice system, from the initial moment of response through to the resolution of the case. It looks at capacity, responsiveness and effectiveness to assess how the best interest of the child is protected. Where possible, the index aims to track the implementation and monitoring of these actions.
Economist Impact also developed a separate module that measures the degree to which government has developed legislations to regulate how the private sector engages with children, especially around issues related to data protection, child labour and the role of Internet Service Providers in preventing the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online.