More than three quarters of self-generated sexual images or videos of children online features 11 to 13 year old girls, the Internet Watch Foundation has warned.
Self-generated imagery or 'selfies' now account for nearly a third of web pages featuring sexual images of children actioned by the IWF, new data has revealed, as young girls are being coerced into performing sexually on their own webcams or taking sexual selfies.
IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves OBE, said: “This data demonstrates the alarming rate at which self-generated imagery is increasing, especially among young girls – often in domestic settings. These are images and videos where girls have been groomed, coerced and tricked into performing sexually over webcam, what is fast becoming a national crisis.
"There has never been a more poignant time to shine a light on the uncomfortable truth we are now faced with," she added.
The data found:
- Self-generated sexual content featuring under-18s now accounts for nearly a third of all actioned child sexual abuse material online by the IWF.
- IWF took action on over 37,000 reports that contained self-generated images and videos from the web, depicting criminal imagery of under 18s, between January and November 2019.
- Recent research highlights that over three quarters (77%) of 18 to 25 year old men are watching porn online.
The IWF and Marie Collins Foundation, a victim-support charity, are calling on young men to report any sexual images or videos that they may see while browsing online that look like they may feature an under 18.
The two charities are promoting a series of online films to educate viewers on the law regarding sexual online content of under 18s, and how to easily and anonymously report any sexual images or videos of concern.
The film aims to educate young men on what to do if they unintentionally stumble across any sexual images or videos that look like they may feature an under 18, so the material can be removed and the harm to victims reduced.
In the UK, an individual can be prosecuted for taking, making, sharing and possessing sexual images of under 18s, even if they thought that the person featured looked older.
Susie Hargreaves OBE added: "While we’re working to prevent images from being taken in the first place, efforts to halt the spread of the ones in circulation by encouraging young men to anonymously report any they may unintentionally stumble upon, is an important and much needed step to help tackle the issue.
"Young men might be at risk of stumbling across this content, as a result of having unprecedented access to sexual content online – but they can also be the heroes that help us save many more victims of child sexual abuse," she said.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the National Police Chief's Council lead on child protection, added: "The sheer scale of indecent and harmful content online means that the police cannot tackle this problem on their own. We have to prioritise and that means pursuing the most dangerous and persistent offenders whose mission is to harm children.
"However, we all have a part to play in making the online world a safer place for everyone. Work like this, which seeks to educate people about the law and encourage them to be responsible, and especially to report any sexual images and videos of under-18s, supports the reduction of crime, the removal of indecent content and, importantly, lessens the harm to victims," he concluded.