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London hosts summit to discuss 'online child safety'

Credit: PA

Thousands of children are at risk of viewing the millions of explicit images and video circulating on the internet if parents do not put proper precautions in place, the Home Secretary has warned.

Parents buying their youngsters tablets, smart phones or computers this Christmas, should think about the steps they would take to protect their child online, the government has warned ahead of a summit on internet safety.

Theresa May will meet delegates from 50 countries in London to discuss a global response to tackling child online sexual exploitation.

Experts warn there are millions of explicit images and videos of children circulating online - and, according to the NSPCC, one in five of them have been taken by the children themselves.

Former senior police officer and child protection expert Sharon Girling spoke to Good Morning Britain about the precautions parents could take to protect their child online.

Politicians and experts will meet 23 leading technology companies at the 'We Protect Children Online' summit in London, with the aim of agreeing a co-ordinated global response to tackle child sex images on the internet.

Ground-breaking technical innovations are expected to be unveiled, which will make it much harder for criminals to exploit the "almost limitless" potential of the digital age to exploit children.

The vast majority of under-10s (90%) go online and 60% of teenagers over the age of 14 said they had been asked fro a sexual image or video of themselves.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP) estimates 190,000 UK children will be subject to sexual abuse by an adult they are not related to by the age of 18.

Online exploitation causes Credit: PA

Some 10,000 new cases of child sexual abuse are reported in the UK every year.

In 2012 CEOP got 8,000 reports of indecent images of children being shares, with 70,000 still photos and videos - two-fold increase on previous years.

The Home Secretary said she was "appalled" by the continued use of the internet to sexually exploit children for "gratification and profit".

She continued: "It causes indescribable harm to children and young people, whose suffering is multiplied by the continued circulation of images of their abuse online. We will do everything in our power to remove illegal images of children from the internet, to identify and protect victims, and to bring abusers to justice."