Over 300 million children are victims of online sexual abuse each year

Photo: Archive

More than 300 million children worldwide are victims of online sexual abuse each year, new research suggests.

In what is believed to be the first global assessment of the scale of the crisis, researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that 12,6% of children worldwide had been victims of non-consensual talking, sharing and exposure of sexual images and videos in the past year, which is equivalent to about 302 million young people, reports The Guardian.

Offenses can also take the form of "extortion", where predators demand money from victims for not sharing images, and misuse of deepfake technology.

Research suggests that the US is a particularly risky area. The university's Childlight initiative – which aims to understand the prevalence of child abuse – included a new global index, which found that one in nine men in the US (equivalent to nearly 14 million) admitted to having abused on social media.

Research has shown that 7% of British men, equivalent to 1,8 million, have admitted the same.

The survey also found that many men admitted that they would try to commit physical sexual offenses against children if they thought it would be kept secret.

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