Today’s annual Awareness Day from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) concerns everyone. This is the one day in the year when internet users across the globe make a special effort to spread the word about how the public can report online sexual abuse material to the IWF.
In conjunction with its Awareness Day the IWF has published a study which found that 88% of self-generated, sexually explicit online images and videos of young people are taken from their original location and uploaded onto other websites. As this research shows, increasing smartphone ownership amongst young people has made taking and sharing explicit photos and videos online very easy. As the availability of web-enabled devices increases, so too does the need for education and support on how to deal with this undoubtedly difficult issue.
The work of the IWF is vital. They have worked for over fifteen years to virtually eliminate online child sexual abuse content in the UK. Since 2003, less than one per cent of child abuse content has been hosted in the UK, which is down from 18 per cent in 1996. Parents and children, communities and mobile phone operators must join together with the IWF to encourage safe usage of smartphones. Similarly, operators need to filter explicit content to provide a safe web experience to the public.
The IWF relies on the public for reports of online child sexual abuse and the more people who know where to turn, the more that can be done. You can get involved on Twitter by using the #IWFAwarenessDay tag to spread the news; alternatively please donate a Facebook status on the IWF page so that your friends can help spread the word too.