Sexual abuse: Safeguarding campaign after huge spike in self-generated images during lockdown

Online predators are specifically targeting pre-pubescent children – aged from around seven to 13 – and bullying, grooming, deceiving or exhorting them into producing and sharing sexual images or videos.

Self-generated images and videos accounted for almost half of the online child sexual abuse material reported to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) last year. Covid-19 lockdowns have led to a huge spike in incidents.

The IWF works internationally to find and remove child sexual abuse content from the internet and has issued a stark warning after around 68,000 of the 153,369 reports in 2020 involved images and videos taken by the victims themselves.

What is more, this figure represents a 77 per cent increase since 2019, when the IWF reported 38,400 cases of self-generated images.

The analysis from the IWF raises particular concerns for girls aged 11 to 13, who were involved in more than 55,000 of the 68,000 cases of self-generated images and videos. There were also 8,231 cases of self-generated imagery involving seven to 10-year-olds.

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