- Headline summary
- Total number of reports
- Analysis by age
- Self-generated child sexual abuse
- Case study: 3-6 year olds
- Sexual abuse of boys
- Prevalence of female offenders
- Domain analysis
- Top-level domain hopping
- Site types
- Geographical hosting
- Commercial content
- Dark web reports
- Commercial dark web reports
- Commercial disguised websites
- Hash metadata analysis
- IWF Taskforce
- UK hosted child sexual abuse
- Non-photographic child sexual abuse
Analysis by age
0-2 years: Babies and toddlers
Every year, we see a high proportion of Category A images showing the most severe, sadistic forms of sexual abuse involving babies, toddlers and even newborns. In 2021, we also saw an increase in the number of Category B images, indicating that an adult abuser is present in the images.
3-6 years: Young children
We saw a high proportion of boys aged 3-6 appearing in sexual abuse imagery, often with a female sibling. Criminals will coerce children into bringing their younger siblings online with them, exploiting the opportunity to abuse more than one victim in the same household.
You can read more about our data on the sexual abuse of boys here.
7-10 years: Pre-pubescent children
In 2021, we sadly saw a three-fold increase in “self-generated” imagery showing 7-10-year-olds. Children have spent an increasing amount of time online during the pandemic, leaving them vulnerable to grooming and coercion by abusers who manipulate them into recording their own abuse on camera.
11-13 years: Older children
Life is increasingly lived online, and older children are often quick to explore new technology. As in previous years, we have seen more children aged 11-13 in “self-generated” child sexual abuse imagery, created using webcams or smartphones, than any other age group. These devices can act as an open door into children’s homes, often their own bedrooms.
14-15 years: Teenagers
The pandemic has continued to impact teenagers’ social lives, with many spending more time than ever online. Criminals will target children – girls in particular – and manipulate them into performing sexual acts on camera. These images are then shared across the internet, with the devastating result of re-victimising the child every time these images are viewed.
16-17 years: Older teenagers
In many cases, the images we see of 16-17 year olds are “self-generated” and have initially been shared consensually with a boyfriend or girlfriend before being shared further online. As it can be difficult to assess the age of older teenagers accurately, we can only remove sexual imagery of them when their age has been verified. In 2021, we were able to remove more criminal images of older teenagers thanks to the launch of Report Remove which enables children to report their own sexual imagery to us, via Childline.