A little girl, aged between 11 and 13, picks up her little sister and holds her naked in front of a computer camera. According to a report The Sun, the above constitutes example of a new way of online sexual exploitation, where pedophiles manipulate children to engage in sexual activity with their siblings.
Before pointing to her sister on camera, the older girl appears to be interacting with someone on the computer or tablet.
According to an expert from Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which discovered this new trend, is not that one sibling exploits the other voluntarily.
"The child has been manipulated to do this. It's not something they want to do".
The worrying thing is that because of the pandemic, most children are at home and spend many hours in front of a screen. Thus, the problem has worsened.
During the first 15 weeks of the pandemic, the IWF saw a 50% increase in reports of illegal web content.
Η Susie Hargreaves, CEO of the IWF, said the problem has grown dramatically.
"Prior to the first lockdown, police believed that 100.000 perpetrators were connected at any given time. The number reached 300.000 when we entered the lockdown", he said.
Between September and December 2020, the IWF discovered 511 pictures sexual exploitation of children, taken by children and depicting their siblings, some of whom were just 3 years old or younger.
During this period, experts discovered an average of 8 images or videos of child sexual exploitation, each day.
46% of them were classified as “Category A", Which is the worst, since it contains"images involving penetrating sexual activity".
The average age of the younger brother was 10 years, while the average age of the older was 12.
Manipulation and coercion
The IWF said it was clear that these children "manipulated or coerced”In such an activity by pedophiles via live stream.
Worst of all, the perpetrators did not keep the sexual exploitation videos and images of the children only for themselves. The material was then shared on various online platforms.
In another example, a specialist saw two siblings between the ages of three and six engaging in sexual activity in a bed after the girl was receiving instructions from someone on screen.
"Then they go to the screen again. We can only see one side, but I imagine they copy what they see or get instructed and then resume sexual activity", Said the expert.
Children are deceived into engaging in sexual activity with their siblings
"We see some very shocking things in our work, but then you see something that is even worse than what you have already seenSaid Hargreaves.
"Starting to see children - and some very young children - who are with a sibling or close friend and are encouraged and cheated to have sex is really, really embarrassing".
In another example, two boys are seen in a bedroom, where the youngest boy, aged between 7 and 10, was wearing a T-shirt with a cartoon character.
"Occurs in "normal" bathrooms and in "normal" houses, at all ages, genders, nationalities and backgrounds", Said the expert.
Unfortunately, any child can be abused in this way.
Ms. Hargreaves said that parents in most cases do not know what is happening.
He cited an example of an 11-year-old girl sitting in bed naked. In the middle of the video, someone outside the room is heard shouting "Dinner is ready".
It is an image that will shock every parent.
"The adult clearly does not know what is happeningSaid Hargreaves.
"We should not blame the parents. Simply Parents need to know what their children are doing online and who they are talking to. You have to do honest conversations with your children. Do not ignore this, it really is a problem. THE prevention is the answer here".
Lockdown has brought a new reality and children spend a lot of time in front of a screen. Therefore parents should monitor their children's online activities and understand themselves risks that exist to explain them to the children.
The IWF has removed 153.000 webpages of child sexual exploitation (most of which have never been removed).
"We saw a huge increase. It makes sense, unfortunately, because the kids were connected all day and so were the perpetratorsSaid Hargreaves.
The IWF does not know exactly what games and applications the children used, but whatever it has live chat function, It is dangerous.
"What we can see is that children look at a screen of a laptop or tablet and answer questions or read comments.Said Hargreaves.
"Sometimes we hear the person talking on the other side of the camera, but clearly, the children they have no idea who they are talking to really and obviously have no idea they are being recorded and that they are posted on a child sexual exploitation site".
Analysts have concluded that children engaged in sexual activity were siblings, observing the common appearance features, environment, behavior and language they used with each other.
From their conversations, it was clear that pedophiles showed children sexual material and asked them to copy it, sometimes in the form of a game or challenge.
Pedophiles first gain the trust of children
Η Tink Palmer, Its CEO Marie Collins Foundation, who helps abused children on the internet, explained how pedophiles gain the child's trust.
The criminals trying to make friends with children and make them feel special.
"Once they have this child in their control, they start having it threaten. The child is afraid of what will happen if he does not do what is asked of him ".
In most cases, the pictures and videos showed two brothers with a small age difference, although sometimes they could have been a little bigger (up to 5 years).
Mrs Palmer said that pedophiles usually target specific ages. They are children just before adolescence that are not so socially, emotionally and psychologically developed.
"They listen to adults without questioning them, while teenagers are more likely to resist what an adult tells them.".
Regarding the long-term impact on these children, Ms. Palmer says the impact is different on each child.
"What we hear from the victims is that they felt they were wrong", he said.
"They may feel confused… This situation will almost inevitably cause problem behaviors or perceptions about relationships".
"Unfortunately, a child is very unlikely to tell an adult that he or she has been sexually abused on the Internet because he or she thinks he or she let it happen.“. Of course, this is not the case. It's his fault that he was manipulated by the pedophile, but he feels it guilt.