IWF data fuels report aimed at ‘turning tide of online child sexual abuse’

Published:  Tue 19 Jul 2022

A new report by an independent think tank looks at what can be done by police and government to help “turn the tide of online child sexual abuse”. 

The research by The Police Foundation draws extensively on Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) data to highlight the “industrial scale” of child sexual abuse material on the internet.   

IWF analysts have seen record levels of online abuse in the last year, with a significant portion of this being driven by predators who have approached and groomed children online in their own homes.  

Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the Internet Watch Foundation, said: “Shockingly, children are being groomed and abused even as parents think they are safe at home. The truth is any device with a camera that can access the internet is like an open window through which a predator can climb.  

 “The pandemic saw a truly disturbing 374% increase in the levels of self-generated material we saw. This is where children have been groomed or coerced into abusing themselves on camera, often in their own homes, by internet predators.  

 “In 2019 we identified 38,424 URLs containing this kind of material. In 2021, we confirmed 182,281 URLs containing these images or videos. 

 “This report shows how serious the scale of the problem is. Keeping children safe online must remain a clear priority. When Parliament returns, the Online Safety Bill must be front and centre, and a strong answer to these threats must be made.” 

The report authors make several recommendations, including a “renewed focus on prevention and investing in better resources”. 

The IWF encourages parents and carers to T.A.L.K to their children about the risks online and make them better prepared, helping to reduce the number of incidences of online abuse. 

  • Talk to your child about online sexual abuse. Start the conversation – and listen to their concerns. 
  • Agree ground rules about the way you use technology as a family. 
  • Learn about the platforms and apps your child loves. Take an interest in their online life. 
  • Know how to use tools, apps and settings that can help to keep your child safe online. 

More info and resources available at talk.iwf.org.uk. 

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