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Online child abuse cases at their highest since records began

04.09.2020

The number of logged child abuse cases is at a record high, according to new figures from the NSPCC. 

More than 10,000 crimes were recorded between April 2019 and March 2020, a 16 per cent increase on the previous year. 

And the charity is concerned that the figures will be higher still for the months following the period covered in the latest data. 

Reports of online child abuse images doubled in lockdown, while counselling sessions about child sexual exploitations increased by 18 per cent in the same period.

That was despite the fact that in March, major tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Twitter, pledged to follow a new set of voluntary principles in order to counter online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

In the five years since it became mandatory to record crimes involving the internet, the total number of recorded offences has grown to more than 37,000.

But governmental reactions remain slow. The Online Harms Bill, in particular, has been at the forefront of controversy following its three-year delay. The new practice would place a legal duty of care on tech firms to tackle harmful content and prevent abuse online.

The NSPCC recently launched a campaign to push forward the legislation to Autumn this year. You can read Parent Zone’s response to the Online Harms White Paper here.

Andy Burrows, NSPCC Head of Child Safety Online Policy said: “These figures suggest that online abuse was already rising before lockdown, and the risks to children appear to have spiked significantly since.

“It is now almost 17 months since the Government’s original proposals for social media regulation were published and children continue to face preventable harm online.”

Recent figures from the National Crime Agency suggest more than 300,000 people in the UK pose a sexual abuse threat to children online. 

Parent Info – which is run by Parent Zone in cooperation with NCA-CEOP – offers information on reporting online child sexual abuse. 

Images and videos of online child sexual abuse can be reported anonymously to the Internet Watch Foundation here.

If a child is in immediate danger, call 999 now.

Image: dubova/stock.adobe.com


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