Internet to blame for rise in child abuse, says study

The widespread use of the internet is to blame for a 1,500% rise in child pornography convictions in the UK since 1988, according to a leading children's charity.

In a report published today, children's charity NCH, formerly the National Children's Home, claimed that internet use has brought about "a major increase" in the abuse of children and the widespread use of paedophile material.

The report stated that in 1988, 35 people were prosecuted – but this rose to 549 in 2001. In total, between 1988 and 2001, NCH says that 3,022 people were either cautioned or prosecuted for child pornography offences. The massive increase in the distribution of abusive images has seen paedophiles stockpile more and more graphic images – the report cited how one Lincolnshire man, when arrested last year, was found to have 450,000 images on his computer.

The scale of the problem was also revealed during the UK/US joint probe, Operation Ore, which has led to more than 2,300 arrests. Police were originally handed the names of 6,500 people who had used credit cards to buy child abuse images from one website.

Due to the global use of the internet, detection, prevention, identification and rescue of paedophile victims has become harder. But worse, the NCH says, the internet has fuelled demand for abusive images which has led to ever greater levels of abuse.

The NCH said: "Modern society has always found it difficult to detect and prevent child sex abuse, the majority of which has taken place within existing family or social circles or in certain institutional settings.

"The arrival of the internet has added to this difficulty by opening up new ways for paedophiles to reach and abuse children."

The study called on governing bodies and the internet industry to toughen up against child abusers, and urged parents and teachers to educate children on how to use the internet in a safe manner.


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