Several thousand young people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are being caught each year sharing or watching indecent images of children, including child abuse material, with a majority of people identified by police in some regions as watching or sharing indecent images being under 18, Harriet Grant reports for The Guardian.
More than 6,000 children and teenagers were identified in 2022 across the 21 police forces who responded. A total of 3,591 children from the same forces were identified as watching or sharing online child abuse images between January and October this year. In several regions, children and teenagers make up more than half of all individuals linked to illegal image viewing. A recent report from the children’s commissioner of England warned that more than two-thirds of young adults said in a survey that they had seen violent pornography before turning 18. Several police forces mentioned a rise in what are termed “self-generated” images, with some stressing that many teenagers choose to send sexual images to partners consensually.