Urgent safeguarding alert over online abuse

The new academic year has begun with an urgent safeguarding alert over children as young as seven who are being coerced into creating “self-generated” sexual abuse imagery – most often while in their own bedrooms.

In the first half of 2022, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) received reports of almost 78,000 webpages of child abuse imagery including so-called “self-generated” content – an increase on the same period in 2021.

More than 56,000 of these webpages contained images of 11 to 13-year-olds, but this year has seen a sharp increase in webpages featuring imagery of 7 to 10-year-olds – to almost 20,000.

The 56,000 figure for the 11 to 13 age group is actually down from the same period in 2021, when almost 64,000 webpages were reported. However, in 2020 the figure stood at 27,000 showing the huge impact that Covid-19 has had.

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