WHEN it comes to online safety at the NSPCC we always advocate to parents and carers the importance of regular conversations with children about their virtual worlds. These are a key part in helping to keep children safe online. And as such we provide a lot of advice and support to help in these conversations, offering tips on how to introduce them to the digital world, for example.

But we offer practical resources too and today I’d like to focus on one such tool that the NSPCC’s Childline service and the Internet Watch Foundation have recently launched. It is called Report Remove and can be used by any young person under 18 to report a nude image or video of themselves that has appeared online. We piloted Report Remove in February 2020 and it has proven invaluable for young people already.

It can be understandably shocking to hear that a child or young person has shared a nude image or video of themselves but there are many different reasons why a child or young person might have done this. Some may have sent an image for fun, or to a boyfriend or girlfriend which has then been shared without their consent. Others may have been groomed online or blackmailed into sharing it. One girl aged 14 who contacted Childline said: “I don’t know what to do because this Instagram account keeps posting pictures of me and they keep saying they’re going to follow my friends so they can see them too. It all started after I shared naked pics with someone who I thought was a friend but it turned out to be a fake account. I just feel so hopeless and I don’t know how to make it stop.”.

The IWF has seen reports of self-generated images more than double from January to April this year, compared with the same period last year increasing from 17,500 to 38,000. The pandemic forced many more young people and children online, seeking out new friends or relationships, making them vulnerable to those who would exploit them. Some young people told our counsellors they felt embarrassed, fearful and self-loathing, while others had concerns about the long-term impact on their future prospects - and some revealed they’d turned to self-harm.

If a child has had a nude image shared online it’s vital they that they know who to turn to for support and that Childline and the IWF’s Report Remove tool is available. The tool, on the Childline website, can be used by anyone under 18, with confidentiality. The IWF will work to have the image removed if it breaks the law, by creating a “hash” (digital fingerprint) from it which will be provided to tech platforms to help ensure the image is not shared or uploaded. Any young person who makes a report should also receive feedback on the outcome from the IWF via Childline.

Please signpost a worried child or young person to Childline if they are feeling pressured to send a nude image. We have lots of advice and support to help them cope.