The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said the amount “self generated” content where children have been tricked or groomed by predators had risen 117 per cent in the first three months of this year, compared with the same period last year.
The number of reports of self-generated sexual imagery by children rose to just over 38,000 from 17,500 in the same period in 2020. Self-generated content can include child sexual abuse content which has been created using webcams, very often in the child’s own room, and then shared online.
In some cases, children are groomed, deceived or extorted into producing and sharing a sexual image or video of themselves.
Some of these videos contain Category A material – the most severe level of abuse which includes penetrative sexual activity.
Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF, said: “We are appalled by these numbers. We know the abuse these children suffer is real, and there should be no doubt that this has become a grave and widespread threat.
“Predators are extremely devious, and have worked out that they do not need to physically contact a child to inflict long-lasting harm and abuse on them. They can now, in just a few clicks, reach children at home through their devices and speak to them in their own bedrooms.
“Parents need to be aware of these realities we are seeing, and children must be empowered to call out these criminal adults who are inciting them into abusing themselves online. This is why we are campaigning to try to warn about the tactics being deployed by these offenders.”
Last month (April) The IWF launched a hard-hitting new campaign warning teenage girls and their parents about the dangers of being groomed online by sexual predators.
The campaign, backed by the UK Home Office and Microsoft, has two main branches. The ‘Gurls out loud’ campaign aims to prevent teenage girls from falling victim to grooming techniques, and the ‘Home Truths’ campaign warning parents about how predators are seeking to groom and coerce children online.