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    Analysis by sex

    In 2022, as in previous years, most of the child sexual abuse images we saw showed girls only. We did, however, observe an increase in the number of images of boys this year compared to 2021. Images including both girls and boys continued to make up a small proportion of the criminal images we took action on; some of these were commercial in nature, shot in a studio, and others were where children had been groomed and coerced with their siblings or friends in their bedrooms at home.

    A focused analysis of Report Remove data is available here which shows how boys are making the majority of reports to remove sexual imagery of themselves.

    This chart shows the number and proportion of child sexual abuse URLs in 2022, split by sex of the victim.

    In 2022, we saw an increase in the proportion of Category A images: these most severe images accounted for 20% of the child sexual abuse images we actioned, up from 18% in 2021 and 17% in 2020. Here, we take a closer look at how the category analysis applies to child sexual abuse reports featuring girls and boys separately.

    You can read more about self-generated imagery here.

    In 2022, 2.5 % or 6,253 reports showed the sexual abuse of boys only. This is a 137% increase on 2021 (2,641 reports). Within this subset of data, we can see that a higher proportion of the imagery of boys shows Category A child sexual abuse compared to girls: 31% for boys compared to 19% for girls.

    In 2022, 96% or 242,989 reports showed the sexual abuse of girls only – an increase of 1,045 reports on 2021. While the category of this material in 2022 and 2021 is similar, Category C has decreased from 63% (152,821) in 2021, to 56% (135,328) in 2022, which is a 7% decrease. Category A has increased by 2%, and Category B by 5%, showing the severity of the abuse in the imagery identified has increased.

    We saw a significant increase in the number of ‘self-generated’ child sexual abuse images of boys. ‘Self-generated’ images of boys accounted for 31% (831) of all boys’ child sexual abuse images in 2021, while in 2022 this rose to 56% (3,504) – an overall increase of 25%.

    In ‘self-generated’ Category A images, we have observed household objects like hairbrushes and pens being used to penetrate, with children often being coerced to do so by a remote abuser.

    You can read more about self-generated imagery here.