Children use their webcams every day, especially now during lockdown, to contact teachers, friends, and post content on various social networks. It is part of their everyday life but it can be used as a tool to groom, coerce or fool them into sharing sexual images of themselves.
Self-generated content is sexual abuse images made by children and shared online. Often the material is created by webcams and filmed in the child’s room.
The IWF, the UK charity responsible for finding and removing images and videos of child sexual abuse from the internet, has recorded a dramatic 77% increase in the amount of “self-generated” abuse material as more children, and more criminals, spend longer online in 2020.
Ms Hargreaves, OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF said: “What was already a recognised phenomenon has now cemented into a grave and widespread threat to our children.
“This year, our analysts have warned there are whole online communities of sexual predators who devote themselves to finding and tracking down children on the internet, so as to bully and coerce them into abusing themselves sexually.
“These criminals can now groom a child who is in the apparent safety of their own bedroom, into making videos of the most serious kinds of abuse.”
As parents and educators, we need to have conversations with children and young people and educate them about the dangers posed online. The conversation needs to be clear and unambiguous and happen at an earlier age them we might expect. Research shows most children have a phone by 7 years old and almost universally by starting secondary school.
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