The review focuses on evidence concerning children’s exposure to online sexual risks, in line with the NSPCC’s priority work around child sexual abuse. It also reviews evidence on two other topics: children’s exposure to other online risks, including pornography, self-harm and violent content, and the role technology plays in increasing or decreasing these risks. The scope of the review includes UK and international studies involving children of all ages.
The findings reveal that a significant proportion of children, at least one in twenty, have faced online sexual risks or harm. The prevalence of child sexual abuse imagery suggests that many cases of sexual exploitation remain unnoticed. Additionally, children are more prone to exposure to content risks than specific sexual risks, with both types of harm sharing common emotional and psychological impacts. However, children encountering sexual risks are less likely to disclose their experiences. Notably, the review emphasises that online risk is not an inevitable outcome; rather, it can be influenced by the design of online platforms and the decisions made by tech companies, including the implementation of safety features like age verification, content moderation, and detection tools.
Check out the Review here