A child abuse image offence is recorded every 23 minutes in the UK. Those are the findings in a report by the NSPCC. Now children’s charities and politicians are calling for more to be done by social media companies in order to protect children.
The shocking figure is commensurate with police figures which suggest a rise in the number of offences involving child abuse images. Latest figures show a rise of almost a quarter last year.
On average, 1 child per primary school class surveyed has been sent or shown a naked or semi naked image online by an adult, according to the largest ever survey conducted about online harms.
This is based on a survey of school children by the NSPCC and the London Grid for Learning. A total of 39,834 children took part, 25,987 from the South East of England and 13,847 from across the rest of the UK. 21,648 primary school children aged 7-11 responded to the survey. Children were asked was “Has an adult sent you or shown you a naked or semi-naked picture/video on an app, site or game?”. 791 primary school children answered yes. This is the equivalent of 3.7 per cent of all primary school respondents, or approximately 1/27. According to The Department for Education’s most recent edition of Schools, Pupils, and their Characteristics, the average class size in primary schools in England is 27.1 per class.
The figures are startling. Under an FOI submitted by the NSPCC figures revealed that 2,724 offences were recorded in 2017/18. One offence could involve large numbers of images of children being abused.
The NSPCC is now calling on the Government to prevent abuse from happening by ‘introducing an independent regulator to hold social networks to account, tackle grooming and cut off the supply of these images at source’. The campaign #WildWestWeb identifies that offenders use social networks to target children for:
- abuse online
- grooming and manipulating them into sending naked images
The NSPCC are now calling on Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright to stand up for children and introduce tough regulation for social networks. They are asking for:
- an independent regulator who can put in place mandatory child safety rules for social networks
- safe accounts for children
- detailed reporting on how social networks are keeping children safe
Speaking about her views on the tech companies Nia Griffith MP said: “Whilst these figures are very worrying, what is even more shocking is that the big tech companies are not putting more effort into imposing a zero tolerance policy for offensive, criminal and subversive material. We need to tighten legislation, and make it clear that no-one is above the law. These companies make plenty of money out of people – they should give more back to society through better policing of harmful material.”
Lee Waters AM also voiced his concerns regarding the latest figures. Speaking to Llanelli Online he said: “We need to face uncomfortable facts. Anyone familiar with magistrates courts knows that we have a growing problem with men accessing child pornography. And the guilty men – and they are almost entirely men – are ordinary.
“They cannot be picked out from a crowd, they are people we know, people we’d never suspect of doing such awful things.
“The internet has made their crimes easy. And it must be the responsibility of those who make millions from this digital world to help deal with its dark side too.
“I fully support the NSPCC’s call for an independent regulator to hold social networks to their responsibilities”
Tracy Pike MBE the CEO of children’s charity CYCA expressed her concern regarding the rise in child sexual exploitation online. Speaking to Llanelli Online she said: “I have attended two conferences in child sexual exploitation in the past month and listened to the most knowledgeable in this field.
“In the past 18 months the scale of primary aged children has seen 70% increase of attempted grooming on line. 400 offenders are convicted every month in England and Wales.
“We have to start taking an holistic approach to supporting these children where they get the same messages from all the adults in their lives. CYCA will be delivering half day awareness training starting in November.”
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