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Thousands of children reported over indecent images

Britain’s leading child charity claim the internet industry must prioritise this issue by working with the public and voluntary sector

More than 2,000 children were reported to police in the last three years for sharing indecent images, the NSPCC says.

The children’s charity submitted a Freedom of Information request for 2013-15 to police across the UK.

This showed 2,031 under-18s were reported for crimes linked to the possession, distribution, or production of indecent images of children.

Across the UK, the total number of recorded crimes for the possession, distribution and production of indecent images of children rose from 4,530 in 2013 to 10,818 in 2015.

Not all police forces provided age breakdowns, but for those which did, there were 11,697 investigations where the age of the defendant was recorded and 2,031 were under the age of 18.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said children had to be educated about staying safe both offline and online.

He said recent advances in digital technology has fuelled an “explosion in the production and consumption of child sexual abuse images” that increasingly involves live video streaming.

“As well as pursuing and deterring adults who make and distribute these, we must educate children about how to keep themselves safe online and offline and how to get help as soon as grooming or abuse happens. And every child who is the victim of exploitation and abuse should get the support they need to rebuild their lives.”

Cyberthieves, are seen as another danger, as they see children as being easy targets.

As youngsters grow, they learn to use the internet and sharing information on social media safely. However, the time before this learning curve is the most dangerous – and­ this is when parents and educators should step in. A range of things can be done to help. For instance, the NSPCC advise parents to curb social media usage and discuss what they should and should not share online.

Sending messages with apps such as Whatsapp is something every teenager does, but they don¹t always know that their chats are not 100% private.

Therefore, you can advise them never to share personal or bank details,  or other sensitive information like passwords via messages.

Also, some parents are unaware that certain social media apps and websites have age limits and that some children lie about their age in order to gain access. For example, to join Facebook you need to be 13 and over and to use Whatsapp, you need to be 16 and over.

Giving young children access to technology that allows them access to essentially any kind of content is a lot of power for them to understand and manage, and risky. However, training and attention will help your child become one that can gain the best from the internet.

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