Trend: ‘Self-generated’ content

We continue to see an exponential increase in what is termed “self-generated” child sexual abuse content, created using webcams or smartphones and then shared online via a growing number of platforms. In some cases, children are groomed, deceived or extorted into producing and sharing a sexual image or video of themselves. The images and videos predominantly involve girls aged 11 to 13 years old, in their bedrooms or another room in a home setting. With much of the world subject to periods of lockdown at home due to COVID-19, the volume of this kind of imagery has only grown.

  • In 2021, 147,188 reports included an 11-13 year old girl, who had been captured in either still images or videos in this way.
  • This represents 59% of all actioned reports and 81% of self-generated child sexual abuse reports.

Frequently, these child sexual abuse images and videos have been produced using live streaming services, then captured and distributed widely across other sites by offenders. Once captured, these images and videos can be recirculated for years after they were originally created.

  • Of the 252,194 webpages actioned during 2021, almost three quarters (182,281 or 72%) were assessed as containing self-generated imagery. This is a 28 percentage point increase on 2020 when 44% of actioned reports (or 68,000) were self-generated.
  • This represents a 168% increase from 2020 to 2021 in the proportion of actioned webpages displaying self-generated imagery.

Our analysts noted a number of very young children, aged 3-6 years old being sexually abused in this way. You can read our snapshot study here.

Self generated overview by severity

Source: IWF Annual Report 2021

Self-generated overview by sex

Source: IWF Annual Report 2021
Analysis by age Previous
Case study: 3-6 year olds Next