Last year was the worst year on record for online child sexual abuse, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has revealed.
The organization, which finds and helps remove abusive content from the internet, called for more support for parents and guardians to help them spot danger signs.
It investigated 361,000 reports of suspicious criminal material in 2021. That’s more than what it dealt with in its first 15 years of existence between 1996 and 2011.
According to the research, the blocks had an impact on the numbers, with more people – especially school children – spending more time online and, as a result, could have been more vulnerable to cybercriminals.
In its research, the online safety group said it had seen a “threefold” increase in self-generated images showing children ages seven to 10, as they were increasingly targeted and cured by Internet predators “at the industrial scale “.
The IWF report also said that the self-generated material is often made using webcams in a child’s room and then shared online.
IWF Executive Director Susie Hargreaves said it was essential for parents to receive more help to enable them to better spot and understand dangers online and ultimately to protect their children. “Children are targeted, approached, cared for and abused by criminals on an industrial scale,” she said.
Hargreaves warned that such abuses very often occur in children’s bedrooms in family homes, with parents completely unaware of what strangers with an Internet connection are doing to their children.
“Appliances can be an open door in your home, and children can be particularly vulnerable to being lured into the traps of these predators,” she explained. “We know that if parents have a good conversation with their children, it can make all the difference and could be what stops a life of injury from grooming.”
She stressed that parents need to be supported in knowing how to bring up the topic with their children and giving them the confidence to report inappropriate behavior when they see it.
“We are delighted to see the government stepping in to help educate parents and provide them with the means to protect children from this growing problem,” she said.
On Friday, the government will launch a new campaign and website called Stop Abuse Together. He will offer advice to parents on how to spot signs of sexual abuse and how to keep children safe.
The latest figures from the IWF showed that of the 361,000 reports investigated in 2021, 252,000 were confirmed to be URLs containing images or videos of child sexual abuse. The figures also represent a 21% increase in the number of investigation reports compared to 2020.
Responding to the numbers, Duchy of Lancaster Chancellor Steve Barclay said: ‘The internet is a vital resource for children to learn and socialize with their peers, but this shocking data shows the unacceptable risks children can face online. .
“Our national e-strategy aims to make the UK the safest place to live and work online; strengthen laws and work with government, law enforcement and Internet service providers to combat malicious activity online.
Barclay hopes the new Stop Abuse Together campaign will help millions of parents spot potential signs of child sexual abuse and take action to keep their children safe. “All children have the right to be free from the heinous crime of sexual abuse, and we all have a role to play in keeping them safe. Together, let’s stop the abuse.
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