The number of minors between the ages of 9 and 12 who share explicit images of themselves online doubled in 2020, causing alarm among advocates for preventing online child sexual abuse.
The numbers were collected through an online survey conducted by researchers for group Thorn, which works to prevent children from being sexually exploited on the internet, The Christian Post reports.
The report, “Self-Generated Child Sexual Abuse Material: Youth Attitudes and Experiences in 2020,” surveyed roughly 2,002 children across the U.S.
Researchers looked at how frequently children engaged in what they call Self-Generated Child Sexual Abuse Material (SG-CSAM), described as “explicit imagery of a child that appears to have been taken by the child in the image.”
This imagery is being produced both by the child’s consent and through coercion. Colloquially, it is referred to as “sexting.”
While just 6% of children between the ages of 9 and 12 reported that they had generated SG-CSAM in 2019, while 14% reported they had in 2020.
Meanwhile, among children between the ages of 13 and 17, 15% reported they had generated SG-CSAM in 2019, while 19% said they had done so in 2020.
The researchers behind the study noted that as this trend among children rises, they are at an increased risk of online sexual exploitation, but that intervention can be difficult.
“Self-generated child sexual abuse material has become a vital area of concern for those combating online child sexual exploitation. … [It] presents distinct risks for kids and unique challenges for the communities committed to protecting them,” they wrote. “The interventions we pursue must be uniquely tailored to the experiences of young people and the offenders who may target them for victimization.”
Pray for our children in this wicked world, as they are tempted and lured from left and right to put themselves at risk of some of the most depraved exploitation imaginable.
Parents, it has never been more important to monitor you children’s phone and internet use! Be vigilant, aware, and engage with your children so they know how to guard themselves and respect their bodies.
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