Schools are being invited to join a new campaign to help stem the rising tide of online child sexual abuse.
Online safety platform, Natterhub, is exhorting parents and schools to ‘Have the conversation before someone else does’, following a report from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) that incidences of abuse imagery captured via a webcam have risen 374% since the pandemic.
In 2019, the IWF took action to remove 38,424 URLs containing images or videos of “self-generated” material; in 2021, the figure was 182,281.
Child sexual abuse images generated in this way now account for nearly three quarters (72%) of all the content the IWF works to remove online.
Young girls are at particular risk, according to the charity’s figures. In 2011, they accounted for 60% of the children seen in child sexual abuse images. That has now risen to 97%.
Figures published in July of this year by the NSPCC paint a similarly worrying increase in internet-based abuse, with the number of online grooming crimes recorded by the police having risen by 84% in four years.
If we can facilitate timely and engaging conversations with children, this scenario should be entirely preventable – Susie Hargreaves, IWF
“Child sexual abuse, which is facilitated and captured by technology using an internet connection, does not require the abuser to be physically present, and most often takes place when the child is in their bedroom – a supposedly safe space in the family home,” said Susie Hargreaves CEO of IWF, which is backing Natterhub’s initiative.
“If we can facilitate timely and engaging conversations with children, at school and at home, this scenario should be entirely preventable.”
Thus, the campaign, and its series of hard-hitting, real-life scenarios around sharing self-generated content online.
Schools are encouraged to check the resources and age-appropriate conversation starters available at natterhub.com/have-the-conversation.
The platform is also inviting schools to signpost a free, virtual online safety workshop for pupils’ parents – to be held today (6 October) at 7pm – when they can learn more about the #HaveTheConversation campaign.
As we reported last month, Natterhub has launched an initiative – Cybersmart in Seven Minutes – designed to help give primary school-aged children the tools and skills to navigate safely online.
“The reality is that parents aren’t aware [that potential for abuse] is happening in their own homes, and children are not equipped with the knowledge and support they need to navigate these situations,” said Manjit Sareen, co-founder and CEO of Natterhub.
“With this type of activity on the rise, these conversations need to happen urgently”.