Urgent safeguarding alert over online abuse

The new academic year has begun with an urgent safeguarding alert over children who are being coerced into creating “self-generated” sexual abuse imagery – most often while in their own bedrooms.

In the first half of 2022, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) received reports of almost 78,000 webpages of child abuse imagery including so-called “self-generated” content – an increase on the same period in 2021.

Of these, more than 56,000 contained images of 11 to 13-year-olds, identifying a clear need for specific safeguarding education in key stage 3.

The figure for this age group is actually down from the same period in 2021, when almost 64,000 webpages were reported. However, in 2020 the figure stood at 27,000 showing the huge impact that Covid-19 has had.

Furthermore, the worrying spike in imagery showing children estimated to be aged 7 to 10 has continued. In the first half of 2020, there were 4,300 webpages featuring this age group, rising to almost 12,000 last year and now to almost 20,000 in 2022.

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