Girls as young as 11 are filming themselves performing sexually at home
Thousands of British youngsters are being persuaded to broadcast sexually explicit videos from their own bedrooms as part of a worrying new trend, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.Monitors who scour the internet to remove indecent images of children are identifying more than 100 new webcam videos a day, mostly featuring girls aged between 11 and 13.So called ‘self-generated’ material now accounts for a third of indecent web pages being intercepted in the UK, with 22,000 separate videos removed from the internet already this year.Many of the youngsters who film themselves performing sexually do so in the belief that the video will only be viewed by a boyfriend or a close circle of acquaintances, and film themselves in the comfort of their own bedroom.But in reality the person on the other end of the web-camera is often a predatory paedophile, who has manipulated the victim into believing they are in a relationship with someone their own age. In other cases, material that was meant to be kept private between a girlfriend and boyfriend, can be posted on the internet and then tracked down by paedophiles.And experts have also found live streaming websites where youngsters film themselves performing explicit acts in order to win the approval of an online audience Ms Hargreaves said any child who has a web enabled device and access to high speed internet is vulnerable to exploitation in this way and ought to have their online activity supervised.She said: “Children are at home in their bedrooms on webcams and they are being coerced or tricked or encouraged into performing sexual acts which are then videoed by someone on the other side of the screen and they they then make their way onto child sexual abuse websites. Last year the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which is funded by the tech industry and works to eliminate child sex abuse imagery from the internet, removed 105,000 web pages, the highest figure ever.Susie Hargreaves, the CEO of the organisation, said there had been an explosion in the volume of self generated videos featuring very young girls and they were now beginning to replace traditional paedophile material found online.She said: “Of the material we have seen this year 96 per cent of the videos feature girls and of those 85 per cent are aged between 11 and 13.”These are children who are mainly in their bedrooms. In one video I have seen a little girl is responding to a request online, she is actually actively engaged in what we call a Category A activity which is the worst level of sexual abuse, and yet you can hear someone shouting ‘dinner is ready’.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “Children are terribly unaware that these videos are being shared on the internet. In some cases they are clearly being groomed by someone they think is a boyfriend, someone they are having a relationship.“The other side in which we have seen a huge increase is children going onto sites where people can make comment and can ask them to do things, and the children are saying ‘well if I get a thousands likes I’ll do that’.“You can often see them reading the comments on screen, there are live streaming sites that exist. The girls will be unaware what they are doing. They are so young they are unaware what they are doing is going to be captured and distributed on the internet.“Sexual predators no longer need to have contact with a child, they can meet them online and encourage this behaviour. Of course in the really bad situations it might escalate and they can blackmail these children and that can lead to contact abuse.”Last week the NSPCC published new figures that revealed the number of grooming cases in which paedophiles had contacted children online had soared by a third in the past year.