Children as young as seven are posting explicit images of themselves on the internet and allowing strangers to view them in sexual poses in their bedrooms via webcams, a “horrifying” new report has warned.Egged on by adults viewing the pornographic material on websites, the youngsters are unaware that many of the images are falling into the hands of sex offenders, according to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which conducted the study.
www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/horrifying-report-reveals-hundreds-of-children-are-allowing-strangers-to-view-them-in-sexual-poses-via-webcams-10099469.htmlAlso see:News release: Youth produced sexual content
An IWF study has found 100% of the sexual images and videos observed, which were produced by children (aged 15 and younger), had been taken from their original online location and uploaded to another website.This is in comparison to 88% of sexual content produced by those aged 16-20.Youth-produced sexual content was defined as: “nude or semi-nude images or videos produced by a young person of themselves engaging in erotic or sexual activity and intentionally shared by any electronic means”.Sponsored by Microsoft, the study, released today (10 March), was carried out over a three-month period between September and November 2014. It aimed to update a similar study carried out in 2012.All images which met the definition were assessed as if they were child sexual abuse images, therefore allowing the capture of lots of information about each image or video.The term youth-produced means created by a young person or child with no adult visible in the image. It is important to note this study did not look at the issue of coercion, or the reasons why the young person took part.A total of 3,803 images and videos across 230 different websites were identified.82.5% (3,136) featured children and young people aged 16 to 20 years old.
17.5% (667) featured children aged 15 and younger. During the 2012 study we saw no-one under 13
years.The technology most often used by those aged 15 or younger was webcam (86%)
o Nearly half (47%) of this age group demonstrated sexual behaviour categorised as A (2.1%) and
B (44.8%) on the Sentencing Council’s Sexual Offences Definitive Guideline*.90% of all images and videos had been harvested from their original location and shared in other
100% of the images of those aged 15 and younger were lifted from their original location and put
somewhere else.IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves said: “This study shows a behaviour among young people which is different to what we observed previously. Far removed from ‘selfies’, taken and shared between young people in relationships, this shows children and young adults displaying sexual behaviour via web cam to one or many individuals.
“We’ve observed children doing this often from a bedroom or bathroom. Some children and young people appear to actively engage with the individual or individuals at the other end of the webcam. Others we noted were upset and distressed at what they were being asked to do.
“It’s important to note these images are global – we know some were recorded in the UK, but most were recorded overseas. Where we identified serious safeguarding issues, we alerted authorities.
“We all need to ensure parents have what they need to talk to their children about behaviour online, and that children and young people themselves understand the risks involved in getting naked online. This research proves again that an image online is an image shared and something which may seem like a good idea at the time can have long-term impact.”It’s also important for young people to know that if they are being coerced to do something online, it’s never too late to tell someone.”
Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer at Microsoft, said: “Microsoft sponsored IWF to repeat and expand its 2012 research project, as the risks associated with suggestive ‘selfies’ are a key focus area of our child online protection strategy. The data are disturbing and suggest increased attention needs to be brought to this issue. For its part, Microsoft will seek to create and deploy appropriate technology, raise awareness and help to educate the public, and continue to partner with organisations like the IWF to ensure strategies and proposed solutions are research-based.”
Any young person concerned about their naked images and videos online can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 who will work with IWF to remove the images wherever possible.
Anyone who stumbles across sexual images of a child (anyone under 18) can report them anonymously and confidentially to iwf.org.ukENDSThe full research can be downloaded at iwf.org.uk/resources/iwfresearch*Category A is images involving penetrative sexual activity; images involving sexual activity with an animal or sadism. Category B is images involving non-penetrative sexual activity.
Case study excerptsGirl A
Girl A is approximately seven years of age. Heavily made up and dressed in underwear, she is lying on her bed and talking via a webcam to an unseen subscriber to her user profile on a particular live video social networking site. This site provides users with a real time ranking of their “popularity” on the site based on the number of subscribers, likes, comments and/or “rewards” they receive from subscribers to their feed.A TV plays in the background and when Girl A moves the laptop around as she talks, various distinctive features in the bedroom are clearly visible. Girl A then states “This is just for boys, I’m not going to do all that stuff you requested but I will show you it” before standing and adjusting the angle of the laptop to expose her genitals to the webcam. Leaning close to the camera she whispers that “Mum might see it and get worried and you know, like, delete my account.” After a pause, she then says in apparent irritation “I will do it again if you really want me to but comment on the video so I can at least delete it!”Girl B
Girl B is approximately 12 years of age. Using a laptop in her bedroom and en-suite bathroom she is seen speaking to an unknown individual via live video stream. Girl B reveals a vast amount of personal information about herself including her name, location and family life. The videos are extremely sexually explicit and assessed as Category B. Having used the webcam to provide close up footage of herself urinating, she states “So, now we’re officially boyfriend and girlfriend. Well, internet boyfriend and girlfriend as we may never actually get to kiss”.Girl C
Girl C is approximately 10 years of age. It is apparent that she is in her bedroom and again communicating via a webcam with an unknown individual. Girl C is crying and clearly extremely distressed – she repeatedly shakes her head at what the unknown individual is saying or requesting of her, before eventually stripping naked and exposing her genitals to the camera.Comments made in relation to this video on the site on which it had been posted say this video is an example of a “sextortion” video, whereby a child is blackmailed on the basis of sexual content they have shared with the blackmailer. If the child refuses to create more, the blackmailer will distribute the original content publicly.Girl D
Girl D was approximately 10 years of age at the time these videos were created. The videos were again created via webcam.Girl D is naked and performs a number of explicit sexual acts in front of her laptop webcam. The content is labelled with her username for the service originally used to transmit the content, and this is also her real name. Using just that information via a search engine, further youth-produced sexual content of this child was located together with current profiles on a number of social networking sites, which revealed her age, school, current location and details of her family including siblings’ names and ages.A publicly posted non-indecent image of Girl D with her Fourth Grade teacher on one of these profiles showed that she was approximately 10 years of age at the time the videos had been created. The profile also contained a current post stating that she would be “on cam again tonight with my boyfriend” and providing a public link to anyone wanting to view the feed. Girl D is now 13 years old. The ease with which she was able to be located demonstrates the long term consequences and potential risks of distributing this type of content online.Girl E
In a large number of cases, sexually explicit content depicting children aged 15 years or younger assessed during the Study had apparently been created using live video chat sites which enable users to connect with a random stranger. Whilst in many cases, the videos or screensgrabs had no sound, the time taken for the children to begin engaging in sexual activity was very short – in several cases less than a minute. Whilst this is not within the scope of this Study, this raised questions as to what would possibly motivate these children to respond so quickly to the requests of a random stranger.In the case of Girl E, the video was posted to a dedicated child sexual abuse forum hosted within the Tor network. The video shows Girl E but also as a screen inset the feed from the “random stranger” to whom she is apparently connected. This feed shows a child sexual abuse video which is apparently being played to Girl E, who may believe that in fact she is interacting with the children in the video. We are aware that anecdotally, law enforcement agencies have seen this tactic in some instances used to trick children into sexual interaction on these live video chat sites.This news release was sourced from, and is available with more information: