Children coerced into most severe form of sexual abuse online, report finds | UK News

Children as young as seven are being coerced by abusers into filming themselves carrying out the most severe forms of child sexual abuse material, a charity has warned.

Analysts at child protection charity the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) found nearly 900 instances of Category A child sexual abuse material in just five days.

It is urging the government to return the repeatedly delayed Online Safety Bill to parliament.

The IWF’s chief executive Susie Hargreaves said the charity shared details of the material to “drive home the stark reality of the situation” and said the government must reintroduce the Online Safety Bill to protect children.

The bill will require online platforms to find and take down illegal content to protect users, in particular children.

Findings from the report:

  • Material included sexual penetration with household objects in some instances
  • All of the content found had been shared online by an abuser who had coerced a child via an internet-connected device with a camera when they were remote to the child
  • Children aged 11 to 13 accounted for 75% of the images recorded, while 20% were of seven to 10-year-olds and 5% were children aged 14 to 15

The IWF identifies and removes online images and videos of child abuse and offers the public a place to report abuse anonymously.

On the IWF’s latest findings, Ms Hargreaves said: “This shocking data serves to blast away any illusion that this imagery is simply children naturally exploring their sexuality.

“The ordinariness of the items being used for the sexual pleasure of those watching, combined with the evidence of everyday childhood life in these images, drives home the stark reality of the situation.”

‘Predators gaining unprecedented access’

She said it is “vital” the bill is returned to parliament and that further delays “threaten” the bill’s future and opportunities to protect children online.

“Predators are gaining unprecedented access to our children in places where we think they should be safe and protected,” she added.

The IWF identifies and removes online images and videos of child abuse and offers the public a place to report abuse anonymously.

The abuse is ‘inherently preventable’

Sir Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said despite the disturbing findings, “we cannot shy away from the fact that this is the reality of online child sexual abuse and is happening on a daily basis in family homes across the country”.

He added that the abuse is “inherently preventable” and “should serve as a wake-up call to the prime minister.”

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A Home Office spokesperson said: “Child sexual abuse is a horrific crime against the most vulnerable in our society. We are leaving no stone unturned to pursue offenders and keep children safe online and in our communities.

“The Online Safety Bill is a key measure in this regard, as it will ensure companies take proactive action to keep children safe from child sexual abuse and exploitation on their platforms.”