Our behaviour change put together an evidenced-based and largely earned media campaign to tackle the complex issue of protecting children from online sexual exploitation. Psychologists have highlighted the societal harm created by the proliferation of indecent images online and a lack of awareness about the issue. Ipsos MORI research commissioned by the UK government shows that 22% of 18-24 year-olds surveyed do not agree that the children in indecent images are harmed by the experience and only 76% would report an indecent image of a child online. And more than 10% of young men did not think it was illegal to view, download or share indecent images of a child or young person.

Using insights from Ipsos Mori, Britain Thinks and sector specialists, the team has been working with the Home Office to run an innovative campaign aimed at men aged 18 – 24. The campaign, in partnership with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and Marie Collins Foundation (MCF), is designed to educate and empower young men to navigate the internet more responsibly by increasing understanding of the law around indecent images of children (that is sexual images of under 18s), increasing empathy towards victims and building knowledge of how to report these illegal images or video content to the IWF.

Over the last year campaign activity has spanned a wealth of activities including brokering and coordinating a partnership with the YMCA to develop a team of ambassadors. The programme included recruiting and training a team of young men (dubbed MENtors) who delivered campaign messaging in a straight-talking and engaging way to young men in workshops across a number of regions. Info on how to get involved with these workshops is on its website: https://www.ymcanewcastle.com/News/is-she-legal

To spread the messaging online the team created a suite of social content for the partner charities. This was used in boosted social posts which helped secure over 11.9m impressions and a reach of over 3 million.

Knowing that the audience highly indexed for interest in sport, the team worked with football vlogger Theo Baker to create two videos for his YouTube channel. Theo threaded the sensitive subject into his videos fluently without compromising the campaign’s messaging and his own authenticity. To date the videos have had 145,800+ views and more than 6,000 engagements.

With the help of our digital team, a series of vox pops were produced. We hit the streets to capture the views of men within the target audience. The content highlights issues such as the responsibility of the internet user to ensure the content they view features over 18s and the lasting harm victims experience.

We’ve seen great results and real evidence of behaviour change. The collaboration helped to drive a doubling of visits to the IWF website (containing reporting guidance and mechanisms) from 22,617 in March 2017 to 48,144 in March 2018. The MCF also saw an increase in people reporting and seeking information through 21 direct contacts/ referrals as a result of the campaign.

To find out more about Four Change, our behaviour change practice, please email Anne Clarke.