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

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By Dave Stevenson

Posted on 18 Mar 2013 at 10:54

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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User comments

The problem for me would be the worry of prosecution. As I understand it simply by storing an internet image in your browser's cache you can be prosecuted for making indecent images. You don't want to become the subject of an investigation just for reporting one of these dody sites!

By edgayton on 18 Mar 2013

misleading headline

There is a world of difference between "wouldn't report" and "couldn't report". Only 12% fit into the category implied by your headline. The real shock in this story is that 40% of people don't know how/where to report indecent content. That is what really needs to be addressed.

By barrettj on 18 Mar 2013


1. The law is too vague. Boxing is legal, naked boxing is violent porn. Many other examples.

2. Accidentally viewing illegal images on your computer is illegal. There is no excuse. You will be arrested, investigated and taken to trial, where you MAY be found not guilty. The IWF is legally allowed to investigate such images.

If I THINK there is a site with abuse photos, it would be illegal for me to investigate.

By tomjones on 18 Mar 2013

What is Child Pornography

I have read more than once there is no clear cut definition. It can be a young girl in neglige in a suggestive pose, images of someone under the age of 16 in some states or 18 in others. Some law enforcement put child pornography out on the internet to catch people. The FBI put out a report a little over a year ago that their prosecutions of CP were up 2500%. not 25 but 2500%.

By yellowroselady on 31 Mar 2013

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