New research has found that over a third of 14 to 15 year olds in Scotland have received an explicit image on their mobile phones.
Less than half of the teens knew who had sent the image.
The research came from an online survey of 800 students in Fife and was presented at the annual conference of The Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists.
The survey found that 38 per cent of 14 to 15 year olds had been sent explicit images.
It also found that 14 per cent of children in the first year of secondary school – some as young as eleven – had received such images.
In Scotland, it is illegal to possess an inappropriate image of anyone under the age of 16.
It is also illegal to send or receive an inappropriate image of someone under the age of 16, even if the picture is of the person sending the image.
President of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association Euan Duncan acknowledged the damage that sexting can cause.
He said: “I have been aware of distressing circumstances when youngsters have made mistakes online, and also when sexting has been used as a vehicle for nasty cyberbullying.”
In August this year, the NSPCC published a report entitled, ‘How safe are our children?’ which describes itself as: “The most comprehensive overview of child protection in the UK.”
Speaking at the time, NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless highlighted some of the problems that sexting can cause: “Sharing nude selfies can put young people at risk of bullying by peers or being targeted by adult sex offenders. It’s vital that parents talk to their children and that young people feel empowered to say no to sexting requests”.
He added: “The NSPCC has created a new guide for parents to help them talk to their children about the risks of sexting, what the law says, and what to do if their child has shared a nude image that is being circulated online or among their peers.”
The report revealed that nearly 1,400 calls related to sexting were received by ChildLine in 2015-16, a rise of 15 per cent on the previous year.