The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has launched a nationwide campaign, urging young people and parents to break the silence around the sharing of nudes—a behaviour that has alarmingly become normalized in UK schools. 

The Campaign: “Think Before You Share” 

The campaign, titled “Think Before You Share,” aims to foster open dialogue between parents and teens about the risks and consequences associated with sharing explicit images. The IWF’s initiative comes in response to new research highlighting a troubling trend: the widespread acceptance and practice of sending and receiving nudes among school-aged children. 

Research Findings 

Supported by the International Policing and Public Protection Research Institute (IPPPRI) at Anglia Ruskin University, the campaign underscores several key findings: 

  • The exchange of nudes has become a routine behavior among young people. 
  • There is a disturbing trend where groups of pupils, particularly boys, treat these images like collectibles. 
  • Girls are frequently subjected to unsolicited explicit images, known as “d*ck pics.” 

Risks and Consequences 

The sharing of explicit images carries significant risks. These images can quickly spiral out of control, potentially ending up on websites dedicated to child sexual abuse. The campaign stresses the dangers of this imagery being used for: 

Support and Guidance 

The IWF campaign aims to educate young people about these dangers and provide resources to those affected. It also offers guidance for parents on how to approach these sensitive topics with their children. The initiative includes social media efforts and public service announcements featuring comedian Diane Morgan.  

Voices from the Field 

An anonymous Assistant Principal involved in developing the campaign emphasized the necessity of understanding young people’s perspectives and removing the stigma surrounding these discussions. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified internet use among young people, further complicating the issue. 

Expert Insights 

Professor Samantha Lundrigan, Director of IPPPRI, highlighted the urgency of addressing this issue, citing comprehensive research involving 307 children. The findings reveal that unwanted sexual images are a normalized part of many children’s digital experiences. Lundrigan advocates for integrating these discussions into everyday education and awareness. 

Resources for Action 

For those facing threats or extortion, the IWF offers the “Report Remove” service in partnership with Childline. This service empowers young people to have their explicit imagery removed from the internet and protect themselves against threats. 

How to Report 

The IWF provides the following guidelines for reporting child sexual abuse imagery: 

  • Provide the exact URL of the abusive content. 
  • Avoid reporting non-abusive content; details for other agencies are available on the IWF website. 
  • Contact the police if a child is in immediate danger. 
  • Report each web address only once to avoid wasting analysts’ time. 

Netsweeper partners with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to enhance online safety by blocking access to child sexual abuse material. Through this collaboration, Netsweeper integrates IWF’s comprehensive URL list into their filtering technology, ensuring that harmful content is effectively restricted. Netsweeper supports IWF’s campaigns, including “Think Before You Share,” because we are committed to protecting children from online exploitation and fostering safer digital environments for young users. 

For more information, visit Think Before You Share