UKSIC reaffirms importance of youth voice in online safety discussions as worrying data emerges

27 Jan 2023 UK SIC

The UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC) believes worrying new data, provided by partner organisation the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), increases the need for young people to be involved in online safety discussions.

Figures from the IWF have revealed that sexual abuse imagery of primary school children has risen by more than 1000% since the UK went into lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The charity says, since 2019, it has seen a 1058% increase in the number of webpages showing images and videos of children aged 7-10 who have been recorded sexually abusing themselves on camera, often by a predator who has contacted them online.

Responding to the data, a spokesperson for the UKSIC said; “These figures are alarming and show the heinous efforts of predators in targeting young people as they turned to the internet for support during an unprecedented time in history.   

“Unfortunately, we fear this data doesn’t tell the full story and there are genuine concerns we will see even greater numbers as our research widens. 

“Our young people know better than most what dangers they face online and the reasons why – with parents often unaware their child is being targeted. As such, it’s vital we include the youth voice in any discussions surrounding their protection online – both in and out of the home – because only then can we fully understand the true nature of what’s going on behind the screen.

“The UKSIC partnership is ever present in its efforts to destroy these internet harms and we proactively interact with young people when deciphering new avenues in which they’re being targeted. It’s this information from children that allows us to better pinpoint these dangers and we urge government and policy makers to use it.

“With Online Safety Bill discussions continuing, we hope the youth voice is given the respect it deserves when discussing these matters as this data remains one abhorrent example of where we are still letting these predators slip through into our children’s bedrooms.”

For more information on the data, visit the IWF website.

Safer Internet Day 2023 is championing youth voice. You can get involved here.

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