IWF analysts report rise in sexual extortion cases of boys
IWF experts have reported a steep increase in reports of children being blackmailed to share sexual images of themselves by abusers, a practice also known as sextortion. In the first half of 2023, the IWF has received more reports of suspected sextortion cases (191) than in the whole of 2022 (30) and has been able to act upon 257% more confirmed reports of criminal content than in 2022.
Older teens between 14-17, particularly boys, are the most targeted victims for this crime. Some 6% of the reports also depicted Category A material, which includes the most serious instances of child sexual abuse.
The majority of the reports come from IWF and Childline’s Report Remove service, a self-reporting tool for children and young people in the UK to report sexual images and videos of themselves that they fear have been shared online, to see if they can be taken down. Children are using Report Remove to report more cases of exploitation. Once on the platform, young people are offered the opportunity to talk to Childline counsellors for further support.
IWF Senior Analyst Zara [not her real name] said: “Victims are scared, and they come to the IWF desperate to stop their images from being shared. The children come from all ethnicities and backgrounds, but they all share the same fear of their most intimate images being exposed online and shared.”
The emotional impact of sexual extortion on a child can be long-lasting. If you or your child have been a victim of this crime, we understand it may be a very distressing and anxious time for you. The IWF guide aims to empower parents and young people by providing essential steps on how to handle this difficult situation. Read more at iwf.org.uk/sextortion.