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Alarming rise in self-generated material online

An alarming rise in the amount of self-generated material where children have been tricked or groomed by sexual predators has been unearthed by the Internet Watch Foundation.

New data shows online content of children being tricked into sexually abusing themselves on camera for predators has more than doubled in the first few months of the year.

Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF, said: “We are appalled by these numbers. We know the abuse these children suffer is real, and there should be no doubt that this has become a grave and widespread threat."

“Predators are extremely devious, and have worked out that they do not need to physically contact a child to inflict long-lasting harm and abuse on them. They can now, in just a few clicks, reach children at home through their devices and speak to them in their own bedrooms,” she added.

Self-generated content can include child sexual abuse content which has been created using webcams, very often in the child’s own room, and then shared online. In some cases, children are groomed, deceived or extorted into producing and sharing a sexual image or video of themselves.

Category A material – the most severe level of abuse which includes penetrative sexual activity – is apparent in some of this content.

IWF actioned just over 38,000 reports that included self-generated content between January and April 2021, compared to 17,500 reports during the same period in 2020. This represents a rise of 117% increase for this period from 2020 to 2021.

The IWF launched a hard-hitting new campaign last month warning teenage girls and their parents about the dangers of being groomed online by sexual predators.

“Parents need to be aware of these realities we are seeing, and children must be empowered to call out these criminal adults who are inciting them into abusing themselves online. This is why we are campaigning to try to warn about the tactics being deployed by these offenders,” concluded Susie Hargreaves.

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