Revenge porn: Hundreds of images of children shared on Facebook and Instagram

Police are investigating revenge porn cases involving children every week

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The Independent Online

At least 200 children have been the victims of ‘revenge porn’ in the nine months since it became illegal in the UK, it has emerged.

The images, some of children as young as 11, were shared most frequently on Facebook, followed by Instagram. 

Police work on nearly five cases every week involving explicit photos of under-18s which have been shared on the internet without consent, according to the response to a Freedom of Information request issued by the Telegraph.

Despite the high numbers of young people in the statistics, authorities fear the total number could be much greater, as victims often have difficulty coming forward to the police.

Since a specific law making revenge porn illegal came into effect in April 2015, under an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Act, there have been over 1,200 cases reported.

Of those, 191 involved teenage victims and also children aged 11 and 12.  Though perpetrators of revenge porn can be punished by up to two years in jail, the longest sentence so far has been just 12 weeks in jail.

Following the change in the law, there appears to have been an increase in the victims, predominantly women, coming forward.

There were just 149 allegations of crimes involving revenge pornography during the two and a half years to September 2014, according to the eight police forces in England and Wales who collect data on it. 

Before April 2015, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, parts of the Communications Act 2003 and the Malicious Communications Act 1988 were used in attempts to prosecute people who posted revenge porn on the internet. 

A 17-year-old boy became the first teenager to be tried under the new laws at Stevenage Crown Court in November, after he shared photos of his former partner, who was several years his junior, on Instagram.

Instagram and Facebook have a zero tolerance policy relating to the sharing of sexual content and the posting of content that puts the privacy and safety of young people at risk. Where it is suspected children may be at risk, they report it to the relevant authorities.

David Mackintosh, MP for Northampton South, an area in which investigations for revenge porn involving children took place, told the Telegraph: “There is clearly a link with social media use by children and it seems more work needs to be done to educate people about the dangers of misuse on the Internet. I intend to raise this matter with the Home Secretary."

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