44% of abuse material removed from net by IWF ‘produced by children’

A child’s hand presses a key of a laptop keyboard (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
A child’s hand presses a key of a laptop keyboard (Dominic Lipinski/PA) - (Copyright PA Archive)
10:27am, Wed 07 Oct 2020
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Almost half of child sexual abuse material removed from the internet by analysts during the first half of 2020 was produced by children, figures show.

Videos and images where children have been manipulated into recording their own abuse made up 44% of child sexual abuse material dealt with by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) up to July.

The IWF, part of the UK Safer Internet Centre (UK SIC), called the rise in children being tricked into filming themselves on webcams by predators “disturbing”.

You may think your child is safe in their bedroom, but even there, they may have been approached by a predator

The foundation acted on 75,175 reports between January and June and analysts found 33,435 included self-generated content.

Of these, 94% were female, and 81% involved children aged 11-13.

Last year, 29% of child sexual abuse content dealt with by the organisation involved self-generated material.

The IWF acted on 132,676 web pages with child sexual abuse content in 2019, of which 38,424 involved material made by children.

Some of the content is created using webcams, sometimes in the child’s bedroom, and then shared online.

In some cases, children are groomed, deceived or extorted into producing a sexual image or video of themselves.

Susie Hargreaves, IWF chief executive and UK SIC director, said: “If a child is unsupervised, and has a device with a camera and the internet, there is a possibility that, very quickly, they could be groomed and coerced.

“You may think your child is safe in their bedroom, but even there, they may have been approached by a predator. From there, they can be blackmailed, coerced, or bullied into making videos of themselves for these criminals.

“That we are seeing even more of these videos is a disturbing development, and we would urge parents to speak frankly to their children about the kind of criminals who may be waiting out there.”

The IWF said one case it saw frequently over three months involved a primary school-aged girl filming herself against a backdrop of cuddly toys on her bed and fairy lights.

Analysts doubt the girl, thought to be aged 10 or 11, is aware that her live-stream is being recorded, copied and shared across the internet.

They said: “We see her twice a day, every working day in our hotline. Becky (not her real name) films herself in her family bathroom – which is clean and bright – and in her bedroom.

“It’s clear that she’s being ‘directed’ by someone – or many people – on the other side of the live stream. She pauses to read comments or instructions before acting out what’s asked of her.

“It’s clear Becky is not alone at home. She jumps at a noise outside the bathroom and her reaction is immediate – she looks nervous and quickly stops filming.”

Images and videos of online child sexual abuse can be reported anonymously at https://report.iwf.org.uk/en

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