The IWF's Report Remove tool is a real game changer for keeping our kids safe online - Helen Westerman

In this week’s column, I would like to focus on a practical tool that Childline and the Internet Watch Foundation have recently launched to help children and young people who have, for whatever reason, shared an indecent image of themselves online.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 11:45 am
Stock cc NSPCC
Stock cc NSPCC

In this week’s column, I would like to focus on a practical tool that Childline and the Internet Watch Foundation have recently launched to help children and young people who have, for whatever reason, shared an indecent image of themselves online. This tool, which I believe to be a real game changer, underlines the importance of partnership working in helping to keep our children safe online. It is called the Report Remove tool and can be used by any young person under 18 to report a nude image or video of themselves that has appeared online.

There are many different reasons why a child or young person may have shared an indecent image or video of themselves. Some may have sent an image for fun, or to a boyfriend or girlfriend which has then been shared without their consent. Others may have been groomed online or blackmailed into sharing this content. At Childline we know all too well the devastating impact this can have on some young people.

If a child has had a nude image shared online it’s vital that they know who to turn to for support and that Childline and the IWF’s Report Remove tool is available for them. The tool can be found on the Childline website and first a young person has to verify their age. But rest assured Childline ensures that they are safeguarded and supported throughout the whole process. Fundamentally, they can expect the same level of confidentiality that they would from all their interactions with Childline; they do not need to provide their real name to Childline or IWF if they don’t want to. The tool has also been developed in collaboration with law enforcement to make sure that children will not be unnecessarily visited by the police when they make a report.

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A young person can make a report anonymously at any time of day and the IWF will then work to have the image removed if it breaks the law. They do this by creating a “hash” (digital fingerprint) from the image which will be provided to tech platforms to help ensure the image is not shared or uploaded online. Any young person who does get in touch should also receive feedback on the outcome of their report in one working day from the IWF via Childline.

I think the Report Remove process works so well too because additionally, Childline provides lots of information on how children and young people can keep themselves safe online as well as advice on what to do if they are feeling pressured to send a nude image and what they can do to help them cope if a situation of this nature has happened.