Children as young as seven are being coerced by abusers into filming themselves performing the most serious forms of child sex abuse material, a charity has warned as it urges the government to sack the Online Safety Bill in Parliament.
Analysts from the child protection charity Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) uncovered nearly 900 cases of Category A child sexual abuse material in just five days.
The charity said the material included sexual penetration with household objects in some cases, and all content found was shared online by an abuser who coerced a child through an internet-connected device with a camera while away from the child.
Children aged 11-13 accounted for 75% of recorded images, while 20% were of children aged 7-10 and 5% of children aged 14-15.
IWF chief executive Susie Hargreaves said the charity chose to share details of the material to ‘understand the harsh reality of the situation’ and said the government must reintroduce the project in Parliament online safety law repeatedly delayed to protect children.
The bill will require online platforms to find and remove illegal content to protect users, especially children.
As part of its own work, the IWF identifies and removes online child abuse images and videos and provides a place for the public to report abuse anonymously.
The charity said its latest data release also responded to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which was released last month and saw the inquiry’s chair, Professor Alexis Jay, call for the use of simple and clear language to talk about children. sexual abuse in order to prevent it from being ‘minimised’.
“These shocking data serve to dispel any illusions that these images are simply children naturally exploring their sexuality,” Ms Hargreaves said of the IWF’s latest findings.
“The ordinariness of the objects used for the sexual pleasure of those who watch, combined with the evidence of daily childhood life in these images, brings out the harsh reality of the situation.
“Predators are gaining unprecedented access to our children in places where we believe they should be safe and protected.
“It is happening in homes in the UK and around the world. Abusers will stop at nothing and use anything and everything at their disposal to target, groom and exploit children online for sexual purposes.
“Although IWF analysts were able to ensure that these horrific images were blocked or deleted, we know that many thousands of images and videos of abused children continue to be available online.
“It is essential that the UK Government’s Online Safety Bill is sent back to Parliament as soon as possible, so that more can be done to address this issue. We need to see significant steps taken to make the UK a safer place for children to go online.
“Further government delays threaten both the future of the bill and the possibilities of helping to protect children from exploitation by internet predators.”
In response to the IWF’s research, Sir Peter Wanless, chief executive of children’s charity NSPCC, said: “In less than a week, the IWF identified hundreds of videos of children suffering from certain of the most horrific forms of online sexual abuse imaginable.
“No matter how disturbing and heartbreaking these findings are, we cannot ignore the fact that this is the reality of online child sexual abuse and it happens daily in family homes across the country.
“No child should have to suffer in this way, but this abuse is inherently preventable and should serve as a wake-up call to the Prime Minister.
“It is absolutely crucial that the government acts quickly to introduce a strengthened online safety bill that requires companies to systematically tackle the grooming and abuse that is happening at record levels on their sites and services. private messaging.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘Child sexual abuse is a horrific crime against the most vulnerable in our society. We work hard to prosecute 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 that companies take proactive steps to protect children from child sexual abuse and exploitation on their platforms.”