Child pornography is increasingly being self produced by teenagers and children who underestimate the risk of posting pictures online, according to an investigation by European law enforcement agency, Europol . The investigation, named Operation Icarus aims to crack down on the criminals involved with all aspects of online child pornography. Child pornography is increasingly being produced unintentionally by teens and children who are coerced, groomed or naively post pictures themselves.
One way that child pornography is produced unintentionally is through an activity known as ‘Sexting’.‘Sexting’ is the act of sending sexually explicit pictures and messages and accounts for a large majority of explicit pictures online. A 2012 study by the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) showed that 40 per cent of teens had engaged in the activity of ‘Sexting’. What those teens often don’t realise is that once those images are out there they are free to be reproduced and redistributed across the internet. A 2012 study by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), found that 88 per cent of self generated images were redistributed after being uploaded online.
Studies by Europol have shown that illegal pay-per-view websites showing images and videos of children across Europe are on the rise. Although it is very difficult to get accurate statistics of how many people are involved due to the nature of the crime, what we do know is that victims of online child pornography are systematically revictimised. The crime occurs not only when the images are captured but also each time they are viewed or reproduced.
Operation Icarus is the first operation of its size and encompasses 17 countries across Europe including Ireland. The O...
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...ge online represents an instance of child abuse and is a crime scene.’
Although it is hard to identify and capture distributors and viewers of child pornography due to the sheer volume of content on the internet. Lisa believes that operations such as Europol’s Operation Icarus are key to stamping out online child abuse stating, ‘A multi-faceted response by all stakeholders not just at a national level but on a European/Worldwide level is essential. While we know that no one action will combat child abuse online, measures such as filtering, blocking and combating the use of peer to peer software to share child abuse images should be prioritised.’
Operations such as Europols Operation Icarus, which focus on finding the distributors and viewers of child pornography, as well as programmes educating children about online safety are vital to ending the cycle of abuse.