Cultural and Technological Challenges

  • Ben Mathews
Part of the Child Maltreatment book series (MALT, volume 7)


This chapter first discusses a range of contemporary cultural challenges regarding child sexual abuse, some of which have existed for thousands of years, and some of which are of more recent origin. It discusses child marriage, and female genital mutilation/cutting, covering their nature and consequences. It poses the question of whether they constitute species of child sexual abuse, and whether or not they do, refers to concepts of rights to explain why action can legitimately be taken to end these practices. Then, it considers the more recent phenomenon of child sex tourism. For these three cultural problems, it considers recent progress and responses, which have occurred through legal and regulatory responses, community involvement, the generation of new social norms, and multinational cooperation. The second part of this chapter considers recent and emerging technological challenges: online sexual abuse and child pornography; sexting and coercive online practices; and robotics. It considers recent progress and responses to these phenomena, noting new criminal prohibitions, and prevention considerations. It then considers the need to develop a new ethic of technology to respond to the new digital epoch, incorporating a consideration of the responsibilities of individuals, of social systems such as schools, and corporate responsibility and regulation. Key messages of this chapter are that some cultural challenges such as FGM/C have recently witnessed seismic reform, influenced by new conceptions of rights, legal protections, the involvement of women and communities, and scientific understanding. Others, however, such as child marriage, have not yet experienced significant change, and require ongoing multidimensional efforts responding to root causes. Technological challenges are substantial and growing, and legal regulation of individuals and corporations is necessary but not sufficient. There is a need for a public health approach to have a greater focus on prevention, requiring education from early childhood to enhance gender equality, skills and attitudes, and develop a new ethic of technology.


Child sexual abuse and cultural challenges Child marriage Female genital mutilation/cutting Child sex tourism Children’s rights Legal responses to prohibit and respond to these challenges Social and community responses Public health responses New social norms Child sexual abuse and technological challenges Child pornography Sexting and coercive online practices Robotics New legal protections Remaining challenges Education and children’s capabilities A new ethic of technology Digital rights and responsibilities 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ben Mathews
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of LawQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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