An overview of data on child abuse online
For the past six years our annual How safe are our children? report compiled and analysed data from across the UK to show the current child protection landscape. In 2020, for the first time, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) took on this task (ONS, 2020).
We have taken this opportunity to refocus our 2019 report on statistics relating to the issue of online abuse.
"If we are to keep children safe online we need big, sweeping changes to the whole internet landscape."
Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO
Key findings from 2019
Our 2019 report found:
- year on year increases in the numbers and rates of police-recorded online child sexual offences in England and Wales and Northern Ireland
- increases in police-recorded offences of obscene publications or indecent photos in all four UK nations over the last five years
- increases in the number of URLs confirmed by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) as containing child sexual abuse imagery since 2015
- less than half of children aged 12 to 15 say they know how to change their settings to control who can view their social media
- the majority of parents, carers and members of the public agree that social networks should have a legal responsibility to keep children safe on their platforms.
Key policy calls from 2019
Following the publication of the government’s online harms white paper, we are calling on the government to ensure that it delivers a statutory regulator that:
- has the necessary powers and resources to do its job
- subjects platforms to a legally enforceable duty of care
- makes platforms report on how they keep children safe
- carries consequences for platforms that breach safeguarding rules
- makes platforms take proactive steps to prevent exposure to illegal behaviour.
Authors: Holly Bentley, Andy Burrows, Maria Hafizi, Pooja Kumari, Niamh Mussen, Orla O’Hagan and Jessica Peppiate; with contributions from Professor Sonia Livingstone, Laura Clarke, Adam Hildreth, Peter Maude, John-Orr Hanna and Matt Lindsay
Please cite as: Bentley, H. et al (2019) How safe are our children? 2019: an overview of data on child abuse online. London: NSPCC
Office for National Statistics (ONS) (2020) Child abuse in England and Wales: January 2020. [Newport]: Office for National Statistics (ONS).