RECKLESS Scots schoolchildren have shocked fishermen by playing “chicken” with their boats.
The youngsters leap off the harbour wall at North Berwick, East Lothian, into the path of fishing vessels.
Officials fear it is only a matter of time before a teenager is killed as a result of the craze.
Children have already had to be rescued by a lifeboat crew after they were swept out to sea after jumping from the harbour walls.
Jackie Tagg, a member of the North Berwick Harbour Trust Association, said she had witnessed firsthand cases of young people leaping into the path of boats at the last minute.
She said two children only avoided being run over by a boat when shocked onlookers shouted a warning to the skipper.
Larger boats, she added, have particular difficulty swerving out of the way if a child jumps in front of them.
“It is an accident waiting to happen,” she said.
“We don’t want to be killjoys but we have big concerns about safety.”
Jackie said the groups of up to 20 children were involved in the leaping from the harbour, egging each other on to do stunts including somersaults, back flips and even jumping from the railing to make the leap even higher.
As well as being hit by boats, Jackie said the youngsters faced other dangers.
She said: “They could be swept into the old pier where there are metal steps and sharp concrete. If they run and jump, and lose their footing, they could go
head first into rocks if it is not deep enough.”
She added: “People just see the fun and parents often encourage it, and take photos. But there are risks and it is an inconvenience to operators.”
Ross Harbison, the harbour master, is working with police to highlight the dangers in local schools and youngsters.
In June, further down the coast at Eyemouth, two girls were swept out to sea from the harbour wall after apparently playing chicken with waves.
One of the girls is still recovering in hospital.