Hundreds of individual victims in videos of “self-generated” child sexual abuse in one week

28 Sep 2020 Andy Robinson

In one week alone, analysts saw almost 700 individual girls being exploited and coerced into filming their own abuse. This threat will be highlighted to more than 120 organisations coming together to plan Safer Internet Day 2021.

New data has exposed the scale of online child sexual abuse, with analysts seeing hundreds of different victims in just one week who have been groomed, coerced and manipulated into recording their own abuse.

The UK Safer Internet Centre (UK SIC) says there is a need to reach children, their parents and carers with information to help protect against this type of “self-generated” child sexual abuse. This is where an offender, or offenders, gain access to a child via a webcam on an internet-enabled device. The child, who is typically in a bedroom or bathroom, is groomed, deceived or extorted into sexual activities. The offender records this and shares it online.  

Will Gardner, a UK SIC director and CEO of Childnet, said: “We’ll be briefing* more than 120 organisations from Government, the technology industry and the third sector about this as we come together to plan Safer Internet Day, which will take place in February next year. It’s vital that we highlight this real threat to our children, which is happening to them in their bedrooms, and what we can all do to prevent it. It will take all of us – parents, carers and professionals – to work together. This is something that the UK Safer Internet Centre excels at.”

The Internet Watch Foundation, part of the UK SIC, is the UK charity responsible for finding and removing images and videos of children suffering sexual abuse.

In one week alone, IWF analysts saw almost 700 individual girls being exploited this way – which is almost one and half times the number of girls in an average UK secondary school.

These girls appeared in 1,400 instances, meaning that the recordings had been found in more than one online location.

In one week (five working days) in June, IWF analysts counted, from a total of 1,402 self-generated images featuring 678 different girls.

Most of the girls were between 11-13 years old (55%) but the ages ranged from 3 to 17 years old, and they represented a broad spectrum of ethnicities, apparent socio-economic backgrounds and locations globally.

Susie Hargreaves OBE is a Director of the UK SIC and is Chief Executive of the IWF.

She said: “This issue is not unique to the UK, but the UK is in a unique position to do something about this.

“The Government wants to make the UK the safest place to be online. We have got to do something meaningful to prevent the creation of this imagery.

“We can potentially save hundreds or thousands of children from becoming victims of offenders who continue to manipulate mostly girls into sexual activities online.”

The IWF is the UK charity responsible for finding and removing images and videos of children suffering sexual abuse on the internet.

It is part of The UK SIC which is a unique partnership of three world-leading charities (SWGfL, Childnet, and the internet Watch Foundation) working together to deliver critical advice, resources, and interventions to help keep everyone, especially children and young people, safe online

Images and videos of online child sexual abuse can be reported anonymously at

The public is given this advice when making a report:

  • Do report images and videos of child sexual abuse to the IWF to be removed. Reports to the IWF are anonymous.
  • Do provide the exact URL where child sexual abuse images are located.
  • Don’t report other harmful content – you can find details of other agencies to report to on the IWF’s website.
  • Do report to the police if you are concerned about a child’s welfare.
  • Do report only once for each web address – or URL. Repeat reporting of the same URL isn’t needed and wastes analysts’ time.
  • Do report non-photographic visual depictions of the sexual abuse of children, such as computer-generated images. Anything of this nature, which is also hosted in the UK, the IWF can get removed.

Safer Internet Day is taking place on 11 February. It’s a worldwide celebration of internet safety. Last year, more than 50% of children in the UK took part. The theme for February 2021 centres around critical thinking. To find out more about Safer Internet Day, visit

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