jugendschutz.net annual report 2022Hostility towards democracy, hate speech, sexual harassment: Children exposed to numerous dangers online

Hate content, disinformation, and sexual harassment - social media sites are the hub for numerous risks that children and young people are exposed to online. Nevertheless, providers continue to neglect the protection of their youngest users and do not take sufficient precautions. This is shown by the annual report of jugendschutz.net, the joint competence center of the federal and state governments for the protection of minors on the Internet.

Extremist agitation against minorities

Extremists use the Internet to incite against democracy and people with a different worldview. In doing so, they often use popular formats and youth-affine appearances to reach a young target group. Often, these influencers also disseminate harmless content, such as fitness or lifestyle tips. In this way, they build up a relationship with their followers and only later include anti-democratic content in their posts.

The annual report of jugendschutz.net shows that people from the LGBTIQ* community are increasingly affected by hate online. Hate and derogatory statements towards LGBTIQ* people can greatly unsettle children and young people. If this is perceived as justified and normal, such statements can contribute to the development of queer-hostile attitudes. This also inhibits the self-determined development of one's own sexual and gender identity. After all, anyone who openly expresses their queer identity must be afraid of being attacked and threatened.

Children and young people as sexual objects

Sexualized violence continues to be a major problem online. jugendschutz.net not only notes the ongoing mass dissemination of depictions of abuse. The harassment of children in live chats, dance videos or karaoke clips on popular platforms such as TikTok and Instagram is also a frightening finding of the Annual Report 2022.

In 2022, jugendschutz.net processed 4,822 cases in the area of images of sexual abuse of children and adolescents or images of children and adolescents in sexualized poses. Compared to the previous year, this is an increase of around 1,000 cases (2021: 3,834).

On TikTok, jugendschutz.net observed sexually harassing communication especially in livestreams of minors. On Instagram, creators with an affinity for children and young people were particularly affected. Pushy, exaggerated compliments on so-called child model accounts or on those of underage amateur athletes seemed assaultive. Since sexual harassment also takes place via private communication, a corresponding dark field can be assumed.

Precautionary measures of platforms also in focus

This year, jugendschutz.net again reviewed precautionary measures of services that children and young people use regularly. In 2022, these were YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Twitter. While there have been improvements, for example in technical protection solutions, default settings and policies. However, operators still do not sufficiently ensure the protection of children and young people.

Balance for the year 2022

In 2022, jugendschutz.net processed 7,363 infringement cases. 66% of the violations were related to sexual violence. Political extremism followed with 13%, pornography with 8%. Self-harm accounted for 7%, violence for 5% and cyberbullying for 1%.

jugendschutz.net forwarded 79 cases of infringement to the Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media (KJM) for the initiation of supervisory proceedings. In addition, jugendschutz.net submitted 104 cases to the KJM for indexing by the Review Board at the Federal Agency for Children and Youth Media Protection (BzKJ). jugendschutz.net sent 2,219 cases to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) because child and youth pornographic content had been disseminated or there was danger to life and limb (e.g. threats of violence, suicide announcements). At the end of the year, the violations had been eliminated in 6,654 cases (90%).

About jugendschutz.net

jugendschutz.net acts as the joint competence center of the federal and state governments for the protection of children and young people on the Internet. The center researches dangers and risks in youth-related services. It works to ensure that violations of youth protection regulations are eliminated and that services are designed in such a way that children and young people can use them without worry.

The youth ministries of the federal states founded jugendschutz.net in 1997. Its tasks were defined in the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV) in 2003. Since then, the agency has been affiliated with the Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media (KJM). In 2021, the federal government also assigned jugendschutz.net a statutory task as a joint competence center in the Youth Protection Act (JuSchG).

jugendschutz.net is funded by the Supreme State Youth Authorities, the State Media Authorities and supported by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.