What’s the biggest problem on the internet? Images of child sexual abuse and grooming, say UK young men.

Published:  Mon 31 Jul 2017

You’d probably think that if you surveyed a group of 16 to 24 year old young British men on internet issues, they’d be more concerned with revenge pornography, or sexting. But according to a new survey, that’s not the case. Our caring young men think the biggest issues on the internet are images of child sexual abuse and grooming.

That’s according to a new survey published today (August 1, 2017), commissioned by the Internet Watch Foundation, for a joint campaign aimed at raising awareness of internet safety with soccer giants Everton Football Club.

But it’s not all good news. 29% of young men say they would ignore it if they knew that their 18-year-old friend was sexting someone under the age of 18. While 39% say they would report it to the police if they saw a video online of someone they know physically attacking someone and 64% would confront a friend if they tried to initiate revenge porn.

The findings come in a report commissioned from the polling company ComRes, to look at the attitudes of young men, aged 16 to 24, to online safety. Data in the survey reveals:

  • The majority of British men, aged between 16 and 24 (54%) say that images showing the sexual abuse of children online, is one of the biggest issues on the internet.
  • The same proportion (54%), think that online grooming is the biggest issue.
  • Whilst 44% of young men said they would report it to the police if they accidently found images of child sexual abuse online.
  • 38% admitted they’d never tell their family, if they stumbled across images or videos of child sexual abuse.
  • And half (48%) of young men think that sexting or nude selfies have increased in the past year and one third (35%) think that online revenge porn has increased.

The ComRes survey has been published to support the See it, Report it campaign which kicked off at an Everton Football Club fixture. The campaign was designed to have two elements: firstly raising awareness of the work of IWF’s anonymous reporting Hotline, which takes reports and removes illegal images and video of child sexual abuse from the internet. Secondly, and in a first for British football, to trial a ground-breaking online safety workshop Game On’, across Everton Football Club’s youth teams and wider footballing community, including staff and participants at the Club’s award winning charity, Everton in the Community.

The central aim of the project was to tackle online issues of inappropriate sexualised behaviours, as well as educate young men to the dangers of being online, through a series of targeted educational workshops.

Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO, says: “It’s incredibly positive that over 40% of young men say that they would report it, if they accidently stumbled on child sexual abuse imagery online. But we need to get that message out to more young people – and let them know that they can report these disturbing illegal images to our Hotline, anonymously.

“Working with Everton FC has been amazing; they’ve been pioneers in online safety education. The support Everton has across the globe, has the potential to influence tens of thousands of young men. And by running these workshops, our goal to educate these young players to keep themselves cyber-safe and in turn spread the positive online safeguarding message has been a real success.”

Adam Green, Head of Safeguarding Everton Football Club, says: “This is a unique safeguarding initiative and we’re proud to be the first club to partner with the IWF. At Everton, we have a history of putting safeguarding first, both for our young players and in the wider Everton community. This project takes that message one step further – we want to help young men develop appropriate relationship behaviours, both online and offline. And, in a complex online world, we want to help keep our young players, staff and community participants safe.”

The ‘Game On’ project has been supported by an Advisory Board made up from leading charities and online safety experts. The work of the project has been fully evaluated by ComRes.


IWF Contact: Emma Hardy, IWF Director of External Relations +44 (0) 1223 203030 or +44 (0) 7929 553679.

Notes to editors:

  1. The IWF is part of the UK Safer Internet Centre, is formed from the charities: Childnet International, IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) and SWGfL (South West Grid for Learning).
  2. Written quotes from young players are available on request.
  3. ComRes are a leading market research consultancy based in London. www.comresglobal.com
  4. ComRes survey of young males aged 16-24, conducted for IWF between 22nd May and 2nd June 2017.
  5. For more information on Game On visit: https://www.iwf.org.uk/gameon


ComRes interviewed 1,035 16-24 year-old UK males online between 22nd May and 2nd June 2017. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of this age group by region and age.

The UK Safer Internet Centre, includes IWF working with Childnet International and the South West Grid for Learning to promote the safe and responsible use of technology.

What we do:

We make the internet a safer place. We help victims of child sexual abuse worldwide by identifying and removing online images and videos of their abuse. We search for child sexual abuse images and videos and offer a place for the public to report them anonymously. We then have them removed. We’re a not for profit organisation and are supported by the global internet industry and the European Commission.

For more information please visit www.iwf.org.uk.

Wizz partners with IWF to fight child sexual abuse on the internet

Wizz partners with IWF to fight child sexual abuse on the internet

Wizz, a social discovery app that allows users from 13 to 24 to meet and chat with people their own age has come on board as a new Member of the Internet Watch Foundation.

23 May 2024 News
Aylo and IWF partnership ‘paves the way’ for adult sites to join war on child sexual abuse online

Aylo and IWF partnership ‘paves the way’ for adult sites to join war on child sexual abuse online

The ‘world first’ standards will help to ‘set and raise’ standards to prevent the upload and distribution of online child sexual abuse imagery.

17 May 2024 News
Biggest telecoms and digital services company in NZ plays its part in securing a safer internet for all

Biggest telecoms and digital services company in NZ plays its part in securing a safer internet for all

Spark joins the Internet Watch Foundation as a Member, helping to keep the internet free from child sexual abuse content.

16 May 2024 News