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Scale of child porn a problem for all of us

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 08/11/2016

The rise in the number of recorded offences for viewing child pornography in Northern Ireland is truly shocking. File image
The rise in the number of recorded offences for viewing child pornography in Northern Ireland is truly shocking. File image

The rise in the number of recorded offences for viewing child pornography in Northern Ireland is truly shocking.

Figures released by the NSPCC reveal that the police recorded 231 offences from 2014-2015, an increase of nearly 300% from four years previously.

The scale of the problem is most disturbing, although the higher detection rate by the police is an important factor.

While the police should be congratulated on this, much still needs to be done in our society where there is an epidemic of men accessing distressing images of children being exploited sexually.

The internet, like so many modern technological developments, brings many advantages, but there are also dark and worrying downsides to this.

It remains a lawless place where society's norms can be broken at will.

The overwhelming majority of people cannot fathom why men are tempted to behave so appallingly in this manner, and there is considerable evidence that accessing such images is a step along the way to actual child abuse.

Given such distressing realities, the onus now is to find effective measures to cut down such internet abuse, which is described by Neil Anderson, the head of the NSPCC, in Northern Ireland as a "social emergency".

There is an urgent need for a robust action plan to cut off the number of child sexual abuse images which are already available, and to prevent adults from viewing such material online.

The NSPCC has rightly recommended that internet firms develop a code of minimum standards, with an independently-compiled annual audit, and a transparency report about the effective removal of child sexual abuse images.

The NSPCC has also called for a more effective implementation of the Northern Ireland E-Safety strategy to help protect young people using the internet, as well as better training for professionals in the safeguarding of children.

As well as all of this, more resources should be provided for even better cyber-policing, because of the greater ability of the police and others to detect offenders online.

This is a not a problem for the police and child protection agencies to solve.

This is a problem for all of us, and anyone who knows someone who is viewing this highly-offensive material has a duty to report them to the proper authorities.

Belfast Telegraph

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