A TOP cop has warned of a “sexting” surge among underage youngsters.
Crimes of indecency in Scotland’s capital have risen by almost a quarter in the past year alone.
Now the city’s police chief has said that “sexting” – sending indecent images from mobile phones – could be to blame.
And he has urged parents to talk to their children to keep them safe sexting – which can put kids in danger or even earn them a criminal record.
Edinburgh police commander Chief Superintendent Kenny MacDonald said: “We would encourage parents to talk to their kids about staying safe online and make use of the parental controls internet service providers have made available.
“Many of the offences we are seeing are young people sharing explicit images of themselves with people they know – or people they don’t know.
“We are working through our school liaison officers to try to improve people’s knowledge about how to stay safe online.”
In the past police have said they will investigate cases where underage individuals share indecent images of themselves.
In cases like these they are technically guilty of distributing indecent imagery of children – child pornography.
But Chief Supt MacDonald said: “ We’re not looking to criminalise young people, but rather to protect them.”
He also said that whilst police are currently undertaking analysis of which sexual offences are taking place online, the problem is likely to continue growing.
He went on: “Given society’s access to the internet and mobile devices, we see this as being a continuing trend. I would expect levels of recorded sexual crime to continue to increase.”
Councillor Paul Godzik – convener of Edinburgh City Council’s education, children and families committee said: Our schools work very closely with Police Scotland to tackle the issue of sexting, and cyber-bullying in general.
“Respecting each other, keeping safe online and building healthy relationships are at the core of our approach.
“Many of our secondary school teachers are trained in the delivery of the SHARE programme – Sexual Health and Relationship Education.
“Education can play a pivotal role in helping young people recognise what constitutes acceptable behaviour and how to treat each other with respect and dignity.”