Talk Trust Empower: Child Sexual Abuse Research Report

A research report from PIER offers insight into girls & their parents' understanding of online self-generated child sexual abuse.

A significant proportion of the child sexual abuse content seen by analysts at the IWF is termed as ‘self-generated’*. The increase in this type of material is alarming and complex which prompted us to run a public awareness campaign in 2021 to equip girls, their parents and carers, with the knowledge to protect themselves from dangers online.

As part of the monitoring and evaluation of the campaign, three surveys were conducted. The Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER) at Anglia Ruskin University was funded by the Home Office to carry out secondary analysis of the data, to provide better understanding into both parents’ and children’s awareness, understanding and behaviour in relation to self-generated indecent imagery.

A key finding from the report is that two-way communication, as well as careful monitoring, was shown to be the most effective way to prepare girls to handle online requests for indecent images. Parents and carers are encouraged to ‘not wait for the right time’ to talk to their children, as broaching the issue is unlikely to backfire, and researchers recommend that it is still ‘better to talk than not’.

Understanding more about this type of child sexual abuse material is vital, and the valuable insights from this study will help the IWF plan preventative campaigns aimed at helping to raise awareness of and resilience to the threat of online sexual abuse.


* Self-generated child sexual abuse content is created using webcams on tablets, smartphones or other tech devices, predominantly in children’s own homes, and without the abuser present. The criminal material is then shared online via a growing number of platforms. In many cases, children are groomed, deceived or extorted by online predators into producing and sharing the sexual images or videos of themselves.

The term is used throughout the report and we recognise the difficulties posed by this terminology, in that it is widely considered that the term ‘self-generated’ carries implicit victim blaming connotations and note the recent recommendation from the APPG on Social Media and UK Safer Internet Centre to switch to ‘first person produced’ terminology. However, to avoid confusion, the ‘self-generated’ terminology has been used because it accurately reflects the language used within the campaign and survey that are subject to analysis in the report.