Schools could be do more when it comes to teaching children about the dangers of them sharing sexual content while online, a think tank says.
In a report, Demos says that the problem is so big that law enforcement agencies and police should focus on those who make images and carry out abuse rather than chasing low-level offenders.
The think tank also highlights that artificial intelligence technology could play an important role when it comes to tackling the issue of child sex abuse images.
The report questioned a number of experts to highlight the growing issue of children under 16 who are producing and sending illegal material of themselves.
The Internet Watch Foundation says that one in five images that were reported in 2015 were self-generated.
16% of youngsters say they have sent sex images
Also, 16% of youngsters aged between 11 and 16 say they have sent sex images and one in six people who are reported for sending an indecent image is a minor.
Now Demos says that this issue should be covered by schools in their personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) curriculum in British schools.
The report states: “The issues of sharing content online, and that includes sexual content, should be part of the syllabus. As the amount of illegal content being self-produced increases, stopping it at the source is a sensible response.”
The report adds: “Education to help support potential victims is needed and also for the growing problem of peer-on-peer abuse and sextortion.”
The report highlights that around 600,000 men, according to children’s charity NSPCC, have been viewing illegal sexual content.
Police should be targeting sophisticated offenders
Demos says that police should be targeting sophisticated offenders and abusers rather than youngsters who make the images. The report writers say this would be a sensible way of targeting resources that are limited.
They also highlight the potential of using artificial intelligence (AI) and machines with deep learning capabilities in helping to spot potentially illegal images before they can be shared and also help identify potential victims.
According to the Internet Watch Foundation, of the identified illegal content less than 0.1% is being hosted in the UK and that’s down from 1996’s figure of 18%.
Government wants to help schools deliver a quality education
A spokesman for the Department for Education said that the government wants to help schools deliver a quality education which helps ensure pupils are equipped for modern life.
He added: “Last year, the government passed legislation for relationships education to be compulsory in primary schools and for sex and relationships education to be compulsory in secondary schools.”
The Department has also issued a call asking for teachers, parents and young people about the subjects that should be taught in schools to help them stay safe and face the challenges of growing up in the modern world.