Some Dutch youth between the ages of 12-16 are sharing explicit images and videos including child pornography, beheadings, decomposing bodies, and Nazi propaganda. A recent study by RTL Nieuws reported disturbing content from dozens of student WhatsApp groups which often have hundreds of members sending thousands of messages every day.
RTL Nieuws used prepaid SIM cards to obtain anonymous 06 numbers which gained the news source access to the student groups for several months. RTL reports the content of these Whatsapp groups ranging from “beheading videos from IS, massacres from Boko Haram or videos with brutal statements from Mexico.” RTL says “The images are often of high quality and shocking…For example, you can clearly see how a body part is amputated or an eye is put out.”
RTL describes revenge porn and child pornography shared within the groups – “Sometimes it concerns nude photos or videos of a classmate, much more often images of random boys and girls are distributed. You can see how a young boy with a stiff genital stands in front of the mirror, but also how a very young girl shows her breasts.” RTL also reports that in the Whatsapp groups, “Among other things, images are spread of a toddler being abused by an older man.”
The report also recounts Whatsapp stickers – small images that users can easily create, save and share – of “young or deceased young people, including Anne Faber, Nicky Verstappen and the drowned Loes from Epe.” The stickers are also used to bully other students, such as in the case of “a photo of a girl with a sexist text and her 06 number.” RTL adds, “there are also many racist, anti-Semitic and Nazi stickers in circulation.”
Nanet Janssen of Bureau Halt explains that legally, “Receiving the images is not immediately punishable, because you can’t do anything about it…But it becomes punishable after forwarding, showing it to someone else or keeping the video in your possession.”
Arda Gerkens, Director of the Online Child Abuse Expertise Agency (EOKM), tells RTL Nieuws that EOKM plans to launch “a special reporting center for child pornography in this type of WhatsApp group at the beginning of next year.”