Thousands of UK Youth Caught Viewing Child Abuse

( – Thousands of young people in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales are either watching or sharing indecent materials involving children, the UK Guardian reported.

Data obtained by the Guardian through freedom of information requests to police constabularies throughout England, Northern Ireland, and Wales also revealed that in some regions, most of those identified by police for watching or sharing online child porn are under the age of 18.

According to Detective Chief Inspect Tony Gardner in Worcester, while many of the cases where the individuals are under 18 involve “sexting” between teens, some of the cases involve viewing “the most abhorrent material.”

Garner told the Guardian that early exposure to pornography has desensitized children and given them an increased interest in viewing shocking material. He warned that without intervention, these young people are at risk of getting addicted to “very harmful material.”

According to the data obtained by the Guardian from 21 separate constabularies in England and Wales, over 6,000 young people had been identified as viewing or sharing indecent material online in 2022. In the first ten months of 2023, the 21 forces identified 3,591 young people who watched or shared online child abuse.

In some regions, young people under 18 make up over half of all of the individuals identified as viewing illegal images. For example, in the Cambridgeshire Constabulary, in 2018, 78 out of 130 offenders identified for watching or sharing indecent material were under 18. But of the 417 offenders already identified in 2023, 329 were under 18.

Similarly, in West Mercia, which includes Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Worcestershire, there have been 436 individuals under 18 who have been visited by police so far this year.

In Northern Ireland, 301 of the 420 individuals identified as viewing or sharing indecent images online were under 18 years old.

Police Scotland did not provide data to the UK Guardian.

A survey released in March by the charity Dignify found that over two-thirds of young adults admitted to seeing violent pornography before turning 18.

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