327 cases of online abuse of children last year
Almost 330 cases of online child abuse were confirmed last year by the expert monitoring group Hotline.ie.
In its annual report, to be published today, the internet safety watchdog says it dealt with a total of 3,153 reports of online child abuse imagery — the second-largest number of reports received in a year since its establishment in 1999.
Despite a 35% decrease in overall reporting when compared to 2014, the proportion of confirmed cases of child sexual abuse imagery to suspected cases reported was 4% higher last year.
Of the 327 confirmed cases, 70% of the content assessed depicted boys. Hotline.ie says it has seen a constant increase in child abuse imagery depicting boys over the past three years. Some 70% of the content it assessed in 2015 featured boys compared to 44% in 2013 and 42% in 2014.
While international figures for 2015 have not yet been published, historically the content depicting boys has been around 15%.
Hotline.ie says there is no explanation for such a high level being reported here other than the sheer volume of specific sites that are being reported constantly and which are captured statistically as a result.
The report notes that Ireland continues to remain virtually free of hosting child sex abuse imagery. There was one report of child abuse imagery hosted here last year and only 28 since 1999.
Hotline.ie forwarded 146 reports of child sex abuse imagery to eight Hotline counterparts around the world and three more to the China and Singapore through law-enforcement channels.
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