Crimes of a sexual nature committed over the internet have significantly increased in Scotland over the past three years, new figures reveal.
Research commissioned by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson MSP found a 50 per cent rise in sexual crimes in the category that includes ‘cybercrimes’, from 2,901 in 2013/2014 to 4,360 in 2016/2017.
Teenagers were found to be the main victims and perpetrators of internet-based sexual offences. Sexual offences are now at the highest level ever recorded in Scotland.
Matheson said: “The sexual crimes research makes clear that more work is required to understand why particularly young males are behaving in this way and to prevent sexual offending.
“I am bringing together an expert group to identify further steps needed to better tackle and ultimately prevent such offending.”
Sandy Brindley, from Rape Crisis Scotland, said the increase was “significant and worrying”.
“This is a wake-up call: now more than ever we can see the urgent need to challenge this behaviour by undertaking prevention work with young people across Scotland.”
Last month, an addiction charity said online pornography is to blame for a record number of sex crimes by under-18s in Scotland.
A total of 407 minors were reported for rape, attempted rape, sexual assault or other sex crimes in 2016. This number included 48 people under the age of 16.
Commenting on the figures, Mary Sharpe, Chief Executive of charity The Reward Foundation, said young minds are being desensitised to sexual violence through viewing pornography.
Sharpe accused the porn industry of “covertly teaching” young people wrong ideas about sex.
Family Education Trust
Earlier this year, a report by the Family Education Trust warned that children are put at risk of abuse because our culture treats underage sex as ‘normal’.
The report uncovered evidence of health and social workers across England failing to challenge underage sexual activity.
The charity examined several serious case reviews, including those on the tragic cases of abuse in Rotherham, Bristol and Oxfordshire.