By Una Murphy and Ryan Gorman
An average of one child per primary school class has received a naked or semi-naked image online from an adult, a new NSPCC survey has found.
And one in 50 schoolchildren sent a nude or semi-nude image to an adult, according to the largest ever UK survey of children’s experiences online.
A high proportion of children who took part in the survey were from the South East of England (25,987) but the whole of the UK was represented: England (exc. South East) 10,957; Scotland 2,365; Wales 435; and, Northern Ireland 83.
Police in Northern Ireland recorded 82 offences of sexual communication with a child last year.
One girl aged 9-10, said: “A complete stranger asked me to take my clothes off and send him a picture… When I deleted the game, I went on another site and the same person asked me to have sex with him, I told him to ‘back off’ and then deleted that game. I have seen this person on many sites that I play, and I decided to just block him.”
The NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign is calling on the UK government to create an independent regulator for social networks, to force platforms to proactively detect groomers using their sites.
More than 20,000 people have signed a petition by the NSPCC calling on the government to put tougher regulations in place to ensure the safety of children on social media sites.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive said: “Social networks have become a gateway for child abuse.”
He added: “Grooming can no longer be shrugged off as secondary to other online crimes. It is happening now, it is happening to very young children, it is happening so frequently that it’s becoming normalised and it is not only coming from adult strangers, but also from known adults.”
• Here is the link to the NSPCC petition: http://bit.ly/2BTX0Bm and the NSPCC survey findings: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/globalassets/documents/online-safety/children-sending-receiving-sexual-messages.pdf