Statistics from 38 out of 43 police forces suggest the Internet was used in 3,186 sexual offences against children in the last year, more than eight a day.
Findings from the NSPCC have also revealed more than 270 offences involved children under the age of 10 years old, including a one-year-old baby being among the victims of sex abuse, which involved the Internet.
Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield has stated: “These concerning figures may be the tip of the iceberg.” She added that children and young people do not speak up about being abused as a result of the “fear of the consequences or because they cannot put their experiences into words.”
According to the NSPCC, online abuse can occur through social networks, playing online games or using mobile phones. This abuse can come from strangers and people the victims know. The abusers are able to contact them at any time, day or night. The abusers are able to message their victims on social networking sites persuading them to take part in sexual activities.
Predatory adults use the Internet as a gateway in order to abuse vulnerable young children online which abusers take advantage of through inciting children to take part in sexual acts, grooming their victims and blackmailing them. NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said this “can leave some feeling suicidal.”
He added: “The government must make mental health support available to every child who has endured abuse.”
Simon Bailey, from The National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “Tackling child sexual abuse is part of the strategic policing requirement and a priority for every police force in England and Wales.”
What I think
I think that young people and children should be more educated into how to stay safe online. Restrictions and limitations should be put into place for younger children at home. This is to ensure that they’re not exposed and vulnerable to online sexual abuse.
Most young people and children do not realise that they’re becoming victims via the Internet. We should be more aware of the issues that can arise when using social media. We need to be more cautious of who we speak to, and the information we share.
If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse online and need someone to talk to visit NSPCC.