‘Break the Cycle: one report at a time’: ISPCC commends Hotline.ie on its dedication to combatting child sexual abuse online

Today, Hotline.ie launched its annual report for 2020 ‘Break the Cycle: one report at a time’ highlighting that it received 10,583 reports from the public, with 2,852 identified as containing child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

The report goes on to highlight that the service has seen a 142 per cent increase in CSAM which appeared to have been self-generated; mainly girls under 15 years of age, where signs of coercion or grooming were evident. Whilst 42 per cent of the CSAM detected appeared to be produced for financial gain, with one in two reports containing video content. Girls (81 per cent) predominantly featured in all CSAM detected, with 78 per cent between the ages of four to 12 years of age, and seven per cent believed to be three years of age or younger. These are frightening and stark findings.

Children who are abused and exploited in this way often speak about the additional trauma they experience from knowing the images of their abuse are still online and can be viewed by anyone. The ISPCC commends the dedication and hard work of all the Hotline.ie team in their efforts to protect children online and to prevent this re-victimisation.

John Church, ISPCC Chief Executive commented: ‘I congratulate Hotline.ie, our partners in the Irish Safer Internet Centre, on another impactful year. ‘Breaking the cycle’ of CSAM online is key to lessening the proliferation of these abusive images and the subsequent re-victimisation of the child. Child sexual abuse is an issue we need to be talking about more: understanding its prevalence, recognising its impact, and actively and collaboratively working together on protecting against it.’

‘Hotline.ie’s annual report shows that those who want to sexually abuse and exploit children become ‘au fait’ with how to manipulate existing technologies and its design flaws for their end game. We know that some platforms are planning on introducing end-to-end encryption on their services. This will have a devasting impact on the work agencies like Hotline.ie and law enforcement are trying to do. Technologists, innovators and policy-makers must find a way for privacy and child protection to co-exist online.’

Hotline.ie works to combat child sexual abuse and exploitation online to protect children within Ireland and abroad from these heinous crimes, reaffirming the borderless nature of the issue.   

Today’s Hotline.ie insights come as NSPCC in the UK reveal that figures obtained by them show that online grooming crimes recorded by police have increased by almost 70 per cent in the last three years, highlighting how the flawed design of technology is allowing perpetrators to access children for nefarious purposes.

John Church: ‘The ISPCC also supports Hotline.ie’s ask that we ‘call it for what it is’: child sexual abuse material. Language is important to mitigate any notion that such a crime be viewed as consensual and/or victimless, and we must all be cognisant that this type of content is abuse and exploitation, and nothing less.’

The ISPCC encourages companies to sign up to and adhere to the Hotline.ie’s Code of Practice to ensure the swift takedown of this content whilst affording an opportunity for child victims to be identified and rescued. If anyone is concerned that something they have seen online is sexually abusive and/or exploitative to a child, the ISPCC ask that you please report to Hotline.ie. It is up to each of us to ‘Break the Cycle: one report at a time.’

School Bullying and the Impact on Mental Health Report published; ISPCC urges action on recommendations

Today, the Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science published its report on School Bullying and the Impact on Mental Health.

The ISPCC made a submission to the public consultation and is delighted to see some of its representation within the final report.  

In its submission, the ISPCC highlighted that there was clear evidence that school bullying does have an impact on children’s mental health, with this impact sometimes lasting into adulthood, but that a dearth in research made it difficult to understand the prevalence and impact of the problem.

Therefore, it is encouraging to see one of the report’s recommendations outline the need for improved data gathering and analysis to inform future policy priorities and service provision.

Ireland has struggled to address the issue of bullying effectively because of this lack of data, particularly in terms of bullying incidence and presentation, and ‘what works’ in the management of bullying cases.

The recommendation to establish a National System for the compilation of disaggregate Data Collation and Measurement on incidences of Bullying and Cyberbullying in all Primary and Secondary Schools is to be welcomed.

Furthermore, it is encouraging to see the report recommend that the Department of Education treats the issue as a priority.

John Church, ISPCC CEO responded: “This report states clearly that bullying, online or otherwise, is not to be tolerated; it is not a ‘rite of passage’ and it is not ‘just a feature of childhood’.

“We know from the children we listen to and support on our Childline service that bullying can have short and long-term effects on a person’s mental health and we all have a responsibility to work towards preventing it occurring in the first instance.”

Strengthening children’s resilience is at the core of the work the ISPCC does.

It is imperative that children are afforded every opportunity to strengthen this skill to be better able to cope with life’s inevitable adversities, including being able to address school bullying in a way that limits the impact such an experience has on their mental health and that allows them to ‘bounce back’ better.

The recommendation of a reconstituted and enhanced on-site National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) is to be welcomed too.

John Church continued: “In terms of cyberbullying and the impact that can have on a person’s mental health, we welcome the recommendation that an Online Safety Commissioner with the power to deal with individual complaints be established as a matter of priority.

“The ISPCC has and continues to call for the establishment of same.

“Whilst all the recommendations in today’s reports are broadly to be welcomed, they will need significant budgetary considerations.

“We ask that appropriate funds be ring-fenced to ensure these recommendations are implemented without delay if we are to begin to tackle this issue meaningfully.”

The Camogie Association is proudly supporting ISPCC Childline for the 2021 All-Ireland Camogie Championships

The Camogie Association are delighted to announce they are proudly supporting ISPCC Childline, through the final stages of the 2021 All Ireland Senior, Intermediate and Premier Junior Championships.

Childline, Ireland’s 24-hour active listening service for all of those aged up to and including 18, is always there to listen to and support any child or young person around any issue which might be on their mind.

The service has remained available every day and night since Covid-19 restrictions were first introduced in the country. It continues to receive up to 800 online contacts, texts and calls every day and night from children and young people who reach out for support in relation to topics including school, friendships, loneliness, mental health difficulties and more.

In partnering with Childline, the Camogie Association is highlighting supports available to children and young people across Ireland and the positive impact that involvement in sport can have on an individual’s wellbeing.

‘Our players are role models’ – Hilda Breslin

Speaking at the official announcement of this partnership, Uachtarán of the Camogie Association Hilda Breslin said “I am delighted that the Camogie Association is supporting ISPCC Childline. As a volunteer community based organisation, active in units across the island the Camogie Association plays a vital role in supporting young people.

 

“We are particularly conscious that the COVID pandemic has had impact on all of us but in particular for children and young adults across our communities.  As a volunteer community based association we are conscious of the need to support each other and in this regard working in partnership with ISPCC Childline will provide us with an opportunity to support their vital reach out into our communities.   We all have a responsibility to help equip young people with the tools to help them face challenges not just on the sporting field but in life and to make a positive difference in the lives of young people.  Working together #WeMakeADifference

 

“Our players are role models on the field but they also play a positive role in the example they provide to young people in life.  Young girls need positive visible role models and the knock out stages of our exciting All Ireland Championship provides us with the platform to re-enforce the positive aspect of sport on wellbeing and also in building support for individuals within a safe and supportive environment.  Our Senior Championship knock out stages live across RTE, in conjunction with our streaming of other grades culminating in our All Ireland Championship finals in Croke Park on the 12th of September provide us with this great opportunity.

 

“We are delighted to promote and support the vital work ISPCC Childline does to support our young people, providing a much needed service to children and young people across all sectors of Irish society”.

‘Don’t have to go it alone’ – John Church

ISPCC Childline Chief Executive John Church said: “ISPCC Childline is delighted to have the support of the Camogie Association through the final stages of this year’s All Ireland Camogie Championships. Children and young people have experienced huge upheaval in their lives over the past 16 months, with restrictions meaning they were cut off from school, extended family members and friends and the sport and activities which can bring them great joy and stability. They will continue to face challenges as Ireland recovers and rebuilds over the months and years ahead. We are very grateful to the Camogie Association for letting them know they don’t have to go it alone.

 

“Camogie players pursuing their sport at the highest levels, as well as their mentors, can be important role models to children and young people and can lead by example by demonstrating the benefits of being active and of utilising support available. Childline is always there to listen. Any child or young person can reach out to us at any time, online, by text or by phone and we will be there to listen to them, support them and to help to strengthen their resilience – so they can cope with any challenge that comes their way.”

 

This exciting announcement comes just ahead of the quarter final stages of the All-Ireland Senior Championship which will see Kilkenny take on Wexford and Tipperary face Waterford in what promises to be a thrilling double-header, broadcast live on RTE, from Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday 21st August.

 

The All-Ireland finals for Senior, Intermediate and Junior Championship are scheduled for Sunday 12th September in Croke Park.