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79% of child sexual abuse images featured children under 12

There was an “unprecedented increase” in disguised websites solely dedicated to distribute child sexual abuse imagery.

Image: Dominic Lipinski

ALMOST 80% OF child sex abuse images feature children between 0 and 12 years old, according to the annual report of the not-for-profit organisation.

The organisation Hotline.ie, is a national reporting mechanism where people can report suspected illegal images and videos in a secure, anonymous and confidential way.

In its annual report for 2017, Hotline.ie said it identified 44% more child sexual abuse content than in 2016, with the images and videos found having increased in their severity.

The organisation investigated 5,789 suspected child sexual abuse leads; internationally trained and certified analysts confirmed 524 constituted child sexual abuse under the legal definition.

“These should not be read as 524 images but rather sources which in most cases consisted of hundreds and thousands of Child Sexual Abuse images and/or videos,” a statement from Hotline.ie said.

The report found that 52% of the Child Sexual Abuse Imagery (CSAI) showed sexual activity between adults and children including rape and sexual torture.

79% of the Hotline.ie confirmed CSAI featured children appearing to be aged 0 to 12, and 6% featured children between 0 and 3 years of age.

There was an “unprecedented increase” in disguised websites solely dedicated to child sexual abuse imagery distribution – 1 in 5 confirmed CSAI reports. These are websites where CSAI is only revealed to someone who has followed a pre-set digital pathway, while to anyone else, they will only show legal content.

“This finding reveals that offenders are becoming more sophisticated and tech savvy, going to extreme lengths to avoid detection.”

For the first time in eight years, no CSAI was traced by Hotline.ie or any of our 44 Hotline counterparts in 39 countries as hosted in the Republic of Ireland.  

“We know it is difficult for most people to conceptualise that adults may have sexual interest in children, that child sexual abuse may be happening in the family context, or the very nature and gravity of self-generated child sexual abuse Imagery which, unfortunately, is no longer a trend but an established reality.
Hotline.ie’s findings and statistics, published in the Annual Report, make for uncomfortable reading, however raising awareness and informing the public on how to report this horrific content is of utmost importance. The cost of not knowing is immense,” said Ana Niculescu, ISPAI Hotline.ie Manager
Hotline.ie works in partnership with An Garda Síochána, the government, and 44 other hotlines across the world.

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