Child sexual abuse material online ‘has doubled since 2019’

17 October 2023, 07:54

Child online safety report
Child online safety report. Picture: PA

A new report from campaign group WeProtect Global Alliance has warned of the rise of abuse and online grooming of children.

The number of reported cases of child sexual abuse material online has nearly doubled since 2019, according to a new report.

The figures, released by the international campaign group WeProtect Global Alliance, show an 87% increase in reported cases to more than 32 million globally.

Calling for a co-ordinated international response to protect children online, the group warned that the number of self-generated sexual images of seven to 10-year-olds had more than quadrupled between 2020 and 2022, and that generative AI was now being used to create child sexual abuse material.

The report also highlighted the risks of social gaming environments where adults and children are able to interact, saying it had found that conversations with children on social gaming platforms could escalate into grooming situations within 19 seconds in the most extreme cases, with an average time of 45 minutes.

Iain Drennan, executive director of the WeProtect Global Alliance, said: “Our latest report shows the scale of the threat children face online.

“Online-facilitated child sexual exploitation and abuse worldwide demands our attention and action right now.

“New technological capabilities further exacerbate existing risks, and the situation is no different in the United Kingdom. Children’s safety must be non-negotiable.

“To prevent more children from coming to harm, governments, online service providers, charities and companies must step up their efforts and work together to drive change and protect children.”

Commenting on the report, NSPCC chief executive Sir Peter Wanless said the impending arrival into law of the Online Safety Bill – which will introduce new internet safety standards in the UK, particularly for children, was crucial to help stop online abuse.

“At the NSPCC we hear from children every day about how child sexual abuse is becoming almost normalised for them online and this report starkly shows the size of this global threat.

“With the eye-watering scale of online sexual abuse, it is crucial we do not forget the impact it is having on children and commit to working together to prevent it.

“In the UK, the upcoming Online Safety Act shows what can be achieved when there is a political will to protect children.

“However, online abuse is without borders and it is clear that we need globally aligned regulation with technology companies and Governments putting political, financial and technological resources into children’s safety online.”

By Press Association

More Technology News

See more More Technology News

App Stock

Spotify to axe 1,500 jobs to cut costs


David Hockney unveils Christmas display to bring ‘joy and hope’ to Londoners

Internet Browsing Stock

Review set to scrutinise AI’s impact on porn industry

Online Fraud Charter

Top tech firms sign new Government Charter to crack down on online fraud

Microsoft offices

Microsoft to invest £2.5bn in UK to boost AI plans

Musk accused companies like Apple and Disney of engaging in the ad boycott and trying to blackmail him.

Elon Musk launches expletive rant at advertisers who boycotted his social media platform X

Technology stock

Apple names its App Store apps of the year


Generative AI ‘helping criminals create more sophisticated cyber attacks’

Someone using a mobile phone

Virgin Media O2 expands national databank scheme for Christmas

Social media apps on a smartphone

Too much social media linked to harmful behaviours in teenagers, study suggests

Bank accounts

New data powers ‘could allow DWP to snoop on pensioners’ bank accounts’

AI image generators

Teach children about using AI at secondary school, IT professionals say

Child with a laptop

Social media sites failing to stop the spread of suicide content, charity says

Technology Stock

Public warnings about AI misinformation needed before election, peers told

Smartphone with Adobe logo on the screen

£16bn Adobe takeover could harm competition in digital design market – watchdog

Person using a laptop

No ‘smoking gun’ linking mental health harm and the internet – study