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Self-generated child sexual abuse: what is it and how to prevent it

Equipping parents and teens with the tools to stop predators in their tracks, from the Internet Watch Foundation

Since the start of the pandemic, the amount of “self-generated” child sexual abuse imagery on the internet has dramatically increased. With people spending more time than ever online and behind screens, predators are finding new ways to make contact, groom, bully and coerce their victims into filming their own sexual abuse on internet-enabled devices, often in the child’s own bedroom in their family home.

The scale of self-generated child sexual abuse imagery is hard to comprehend. In 2020, our research found a 77% increase in self-generated child sexual abuse imagery; accounting for almost half (44%) of the imagery we took action on last year. Of the 68,000 cases of self-generated child sexual abuse imagery found in 2020, 80% of these cases were 11-13 year-old girls – a horrifying figure that requires action.

To help eliminate self-generated abuse, we have developed two campaigns, ‘Gurls Out Loud’ and ‘Home Truths’, to provide you and your young and teenage girls with the tools needed to prevent self-generated online sexual abuse.

Empowering young and teenage girls to say no

To raise awareness of self-generated child sexual abuse and to aid young and teenage girls in spotting and recognising this type of abuse, the ‘Gurls Out Loud’ website provides information and a three-step plan with simple actions for teenagers to use if and when they are approached by a predator, or when they suspect someone else is being abused.

Empower young and teenage girls by sharing the following three easy to remember steps:

  • Block – instead of responding and giving a predator the information they seek, block them
  • Report – if an adult asks for sexual images or videos, report them to either:
  • a. The platform the abuser is making contact from
    b. Child Exploitation and Online Protection command (CEOP)
    c. Childline

  • Tell someone you trust – speak to a trusted person, e.g. a friend, a parent, a relative or a teacher. It’s important to find support and share what someone online is attempting to force you into doing

The ‘Gurls Out Loud’ website and Instagram provides information on what grooming is and what tactics predators are using, including lessons on ‘How to spot a potential abuser’. All lessons and tips are focused on encouraging girls to say no to online predators who may be making inappropriate requests.

T.A.L.K openly

We know that talking about sex with your daughter can be uncomfortable and talking about self-generated sexual abuse can be even harder. Unfortunately, it is a very real conversation that you must have with young and teenage girls. Talking is the best way to open up lines of communication and raise awareness of the potential threats to look out for.

As part of the ‘Home Truths’ campaign, we have developed the T.A.L.K acronym to help you approach this difficult conversation:

T – talk to your child about online sexual abuse. Start the conversation – and listen to their concerns.

A – agree ground rules about the way you use technology as a family.

L – learn about the platforms your child loves; take an interest in their life online.

K – know how to use tools, apps and settings that can help to keep your child safe online.

Along with the acronym a downloadable resource is also available. If you have questions or require additional support the following charities can also help:

Reviewed: June 2021

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