More than half of people wouldn't report online child abuse

People more concerned about child pornography than any other illicit material, but nearly half don't know how to report it.

Dave Stevenson
18 Mar 2013

A survey has found people are more concerned about child pornography than any other kind of undesirable online content - but more than half wouldn't report it, or wouldn't know how.

The Internet Watch Foundation survey (PDF) found 83% of respondents were concerned about child pornography, and 77% said they were concerned about computer-generated images or cartoon depictions of child abuse.

Child pornography ranked highest on the list of websites people believe should be removed from the internet, with 87% of men and 95% of women agreeing child abuse should be deleted. Only 4% overall said nothing should be deleted from the internet.

Not enough people know how to report child pornography or would rather ignore it

The survey concentrated on child pornography, terrorist websites, hate websites, extreme and violent pornography, websites promoting suicide and sites promoting eating disorders. Over two-thirds of those asked about each category said they thought it should be taken offline.

However, if people accidentally found images of child abuse online, 40% of respondents said they would "consider" reporting it, but wouldn’t know to whom they should address their complaint. Another 12% said they would ignore it altogether. Twenty eight per cent said they would report it to the police, while 7% said they would tell their ISP. Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of the IWF said the survey’s findings were "concerning", adding "not enough people know how to report [child pornography] or would rather ignore it".

The survey also asked if respondents had ever stumbled across disturbing material online: 22% said they had, with violent pornography topping the list for 19% of men. Seven per cent of women said they had accidentally found hate-speak websites, while the same proportion had accidentally viewed websites encouraging eating disorders.

The IWF also released details of its 2012 activities. It said it logged 71 websites in the UK that hosted depictions of child sexual abuse - less than 1% of the global total - and that 78% were taken offline within two hours of the IWF notifying the page’s host or ISP.

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