New tool empowers children and young people to stop spread of nude images online
A tool that works to help young people get nude images or videos removed from the internet has been launched this week by the NSPCC’s Childline service and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre.
The Report Remove tool can be used by any young person under 18 to report a nude image or video of themselves that has appeared online. The IWF will then review this content and work to have it removed if it breaks the law.
The circumstances in which a young person may share a self-generated sexual image can vary. Some may have sent an image for fun, or to a boyfriend or girlfriend which has then subsequently been shared without their consent. Whilst others may have been groomed online or blackmailed into sharing this content.
The IWF has seen reports of self-generated images more than double in the first three months of this year, compared with the same period last year increasing from 17,500 to 38,000.
Trained Childline counsellors know the devastating impact that the sharing of nude images can have on a young person.
Some young people told counsellors they felt embarrassed, fearful and self-loathing, while others had concerns about the long-term impact on their future prospects - and some revealed they’d turned to self-harm to cope with their situation.
One girl aged 14 who contacted Childline said: “I don’t know what to do because this Instagram account keeps posting pictures of me and they keep saying they’re going to follow my friends so they can see them too. It all started after I shared naked pics with someone who I thought was a friend but it turned out to be a fake account. I just feel so hopeless and I don’t know how to make it stop”.
If a child has had a nude image shared online it’s vital they that they know who to turn to for support and that Childline and the IWF’s Report Remove tool is available for them.
The tool which was first piloted in February 2020 can be found on the Childline website and can be used by any young person under the age of 18. As part of Report Remove, a young person has to verify their age and Childline also ensures that all young people are safeguarded and supported throughout the whole process.
Young people can expect the same level of confidentiality that they would from all their interactions with Childline; they do not need to provide their real name to Childline or IWF if they don’t want to.
In keeping with this child-centred approach, the tool has been developed in collaboration with law enforcement to make sure that children will not be unnecessarily visited by the police when they make a report.
Cormac Nolan, Service Head of Childline Online said: “The impact of having a nude image shared on the internet cannot be underestimated and for many young people, it can leave them feeling extremely worried and unsure on what to do or who to turn to for support.
“That’s why Childline and the IWF have developed Report Remove to provide young people a simple, safe tool that they can use to try and help them regain control over what is happening and get this content erased.
“At Childline we also want to remind all young people that if they discover that a nude image of themselves has been shared online that they do not need to deal with this situation alone and that our Childline counsellors are always here to listen and help provide support."
A young person can make a report anonymously at any time of day and the IWF will then work to have the image removed if it breaks the law.
A “hash” (digital fingerprint) will be created from the image which will be provided to tech platforms to help ensure the image is not shared or uploaded online. This is the first time that the IWF has accepted images and videos directly, rather than only taking the URLs as they would usually do on their Hotline.
Any young person who makes a report should also receive feedback on the outcome of their report in one working day from the IWF via Childline.
Additionally, Childline also has lots of information on how children and young people can keep themselves safe online as well as advice on what to do if they are feeling pressured to send a nude image and what they can do to help them cope if a situation of this nature has happened.
Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF and UKSIC Director, said: “When images of children and young people are taken and spread around the internet, they lose control. This is about giving them that control back.
“Once those images are out there, it can be an incredibly lonely place for victims, and it can seem hopeless. It can also be frightening, not knowing who may have access to these images.
“This tool is a world first. It will give young people the power, and the confidence, to reclaim these images and make sure they do not fall into the wrong hands online.”
For further support, children can contact a trained Childline counsellor on 0800 1111 or via 1-2-1 chat on www.childline.org.uk
About the NSPCC
The NSPCC is the leading children’s charity fighting to end child abuse in the UK and Channel Islands. Using voluntary donations, which make up around 90 per cent of our funding, we help children who’ve been abused to rebuild their lives, we protect children at risk, and we find the best ways of preventing child abuse from ever happening. So when a child needs a helping hand, we’ll be there. When parents are finding it tough, we’ll help. When laws need to change, or governments need to do more, we won’t give up until things improve.
Our Childline service provides a safe, confidential place for children with no one else to turn to, whatever their worry, whenever they need help. Children can contact Childline 365 days a year.
Our free NSPCC Helpline provides adults with a place they can get advice and support, share their concerns about a child or get general information about child protection. Adults can contact the Helpline 365 days a year.
About the Internet Watch Foundation:
The Internet Watch Foundation is a leading tech charity working globally to eliminate child sexual abuse images and videos from the internet.
We help victims of child sexual abuse worldwide by identifying and removing online images and videos of their abuse. We search for child sexual abuse images and videos and offer a place for the public to report them anonymously. We then have them removed. We’re a not for profit organisation and are supported by the global internet industry and the European Commission.
For more information please visit www.iwf.org.uk
The IWF works globally to stop child sexual abuse imagery on the internet. If you ever stumble across a sexual image or video of someone you think is under 18, please report to the IWF. Reporting can be done anonymously and confidentially – we don’t need your details, just your help.