A recent report indicates that Images of children aged as young as seven being abused online have risen by almost two-thirds while the number of webpages found to contain the most extreme material has doubled in recent years.
Category A abuse, the extreme category, represented 20 percent of illegal images discovered online last year according to the Internet Watch Foundation. More than 51,000 instances of such content, which included the most severe imagery including rape, sadism, and bestiality were discovered.
IWF is a UK-based organization that monitors the distribution of child sexual abuse material. The organization said: ‘As ever-younger children become more tech-aware and active online, they become more vulnerable to grooming and abuse by strangers – even in their own bedrooms.’
The organization cited that online selling of such content through illegal websites has fuelled the doubling of these images online since 2020.
“We have seen criminals looking to exploit more and more insidious ways to profit from the abuse of children,” said Susie Hargreaves, the chief executive of the IWF. “I don’t think I can overstate the harm being done here. These are real children, and the suffering inflicted on them is unimaginable.
In addition, the organization has said the number of illegal website selling these contents have also doubled since 2020 with nearly 29,000 such pages identified last year.
It said that each webpage could contain one, tens, hundreds, or even thousands of individual child sexual abuse images or videos.
Last year IWF shut down nearly 250,000 such webpages, with three-quarters of them containing self-generated imagery, where the victim is manipulated into recording their own abuse before it is shared online.