New survey reveals risks children and young people face online

Our Wild West Web campaign calls on the government to regulate social networks and make the internet safer for children

Young girl sat on her bed looking at her mobile phone.In a survey of nearly 40,000 children, we asked children and young people aged 7 to 16 about the risks they face when using the internet1

Findings include:

  • an average of 1 child per primary school class surveyed has been sent or shown a naked or semi-naked image online from an adult
  • 1 in 50 school children surveyed sent a nude or semi-nude image to an adult.

We're calling on the government to act now to stop another generation of children growing up with their lives changed forever by online sexual abuse.

"A complete stranger asked me to take my clothes off and send him a picture ... When I deleted the game, I went on another site and the same person asked me to have sex with him, I told him to 'back off' and then deleted that game. I have seen this person on many sites that I play."
9-10 year old girl surveyed

Wild West Web: our campaign

We're calling on Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright to stand up for children and introduce tough regulation for social networks. We want:

  • an independent regulator who can put in place mandatory child safety rules for social networks
  • safe accounts for children
  • detailed reporting on how social networks are keeping children safe.

We need your help to ensure children are safe online. Sign our petition and help end the #WildWestWeb.

Sign the petition

The first snapshot of the survey findings, Children sending and receiving images (PDF), highlights the dangers children are exposed to.

Children were asked whether an adult had ever sent or shown them a naked or semi-naked picture or video on an app, site or game. A boy aged 9-10, said: 

"A stranger on snapchat added me and I thought it was my friends sister but it was not it was a complete stranger asking me where I live [and to] send a picture of my face to them."

Peter WanlessPeter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive said:
"Grooming can no longer be shrugged off as secondary to other online crimes. It is happening now, it is happening to very young children, it is happening so frequently that it's becoming normalised, and it is not only coming from adult strangers, but also from known adults. Social networks have become a gateway for child abuse. 

"The NSPCC has launched a petition calling on Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright and Home Secretary Sajid Javid to put an end to the Wild West Web. We need tough regulation of social networks to make sure there are fundamental protections for children in place whatever sites they’re using.”

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Names and identifying features have been changed to protect identity. Photographs have been posed by models.


  1. 1. A total of 21,648 primary school children and 18,186 secondary school children were asked "Has an adult sent you or shown you a naked or semi-naked picture/video on an app, site or game". 791 primary school children and 959 secondary school children answered yes.

    This is the equivalent of 4 per cent of all primary school respondents, or approximately 1/25, and the equivalent of 5 per cent of all secondary school respondents, or approximately 1/20.

    As the majority (93 per cent) of responses came from England we have used English class size data as the basis of our calculations. According to the Department for Education's most recent edition of Schools, Pupils, and their Characteristics, the average class size in primary schools in England is 27.1 per class and the average class size in secondary schools in England is 21.2.

    Children were also asked "Have you ever sent a naked or semi-naked picture/video to an adult". 404 primary school children (2 per cent) and 277 secondary school children (2 per cent) answered yes.