Self-re­fer­rals to stop look­ing at sex­ual child abuse im­ages are soar­ing

More than eight peo­ple a week have sought help

Hinckley Times - - NEWS - ALICE CACHIA hinck­ley­times@reach­plc.com

MORE than eight peo­ple a week sought help to stop search­ing for im­ages of child abuse in Le­ices­ter­shire last year - and the num­ber is soar­ing.

Fig­ures from The Lucy Faith­full Foun­da­tion - a child pro­tec­tion char­ity - re­veal that some 420 peo­ple in our area sought help for the crime last year.

That is a rise of nearly a quar­ter (23%) from 341 peo­ple in 2016.

Stop it Now! - a cam­paign and helpline set up by the char­ity in 2002 - aims to pre­vent child sex­ual abuse by en­cour­ag­ing abus- ers and po­ten­tial abusers to seek help through on­line re­sources and helplines.

Of the 420 peo­ple who con­tacted Stop it Now! in our area last year, some 374 did so via the web­site, while 46 tele­phoned.

The ris­ing trend in Le­ices­ter­shire re­flects the story across the rest of the UK.

Na­tion­ally, some 36,443 peo­ple con­tacted Stop it Now! in 2017 - a 40% rise from the 26,089 peo­ple who did so the pre­vi­ous year.

Of the 36,443 peo­ple in 2017, the ma­jor­ity con­tacted the cam­paign through the web­site (34,193), while 2,251 rang up.

The rise in num­bers can be partly ex­plained by a video cam­paign launched by Stop it Now! in 2015, which sought to tackle the on­line view­ing of sex­ual im­ages of chil­dren by en­cour­ag­ing more peo­ple to seek help.

Since the launch of the cam­paign, more than 69,000 peo­ple within the UK have vis­ited the Stop it Now Get Help web­site.

Chief Con­sta­ble Si­mon Bai­ley, the Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs’ coun­cil lead for child pro­tec­tion, said: “Po­lice forces are ar­rest­ing more of­fend­ers who view or share sex­ual im­ages of chil­dren on­line and pro­tect­ing more chil­dren than ever be­fore.

“How­ever, child sex­ual abuse can­not be coun­tered by en­force- ment alone.

“It re­quires schools and par­ents to ed­u­cate chil­dren to en­sure they stay safe, as well as for tech­nol­ogy and so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies to take their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties se­ri­ously in pro­tect­ing young peo­ple on­line.

“Along­side the im­por­tant role for ed­u­ca­tion in rais­ing aware­ness and a greater role for tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies in child pro­tec­tion, it is also cru­cial that of­fend­ers who are yet to be ar­rested are given the op­por­tu­nity to seek help.”

Tom Squire, clin­i­cal man­ager at The Lucy Faith­full Foun­da­tion, said: “Stop it Now! is de­ter­mined to pro­tect chil­dren from abuse and the dev­as­tat­ing im­pact of hav­ing their im­age re­peat­edly shared across the in­ter­net.

“The best way to do this is to de­ter peo­ple from look­ing at th­ese im­ages in the first place, and to get those who are look­ing to stop.

“We work with many men ar­rested after down­load­ing huge num­bers of abu­sive im­ages of chil­dren. Nearly all of them say they wish they had known sooner about the help that’s avail­able to stop.”

Stop it Now! can be reached at www.get-help.sto­pit­now.org.uk, or via a con­fi­den­tial helpline on 0808 1000 900.

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