This website uses cookies for anonymised analytics and for account authentication. See our privacy and cookies policies for more information.

The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Charity warns: more children being targeted online

This news post is almost 8 years old

Mobile communications and the internet playing an increasing role in the sexual abuse of younger children in Scotland

More children in Scotland are reporting being sent indecent messages and texts than ever before, a leading charity has said.

Figures reveal offences have risen by over 60% after new laws criminalising text messages to children came into force in 2010.

Police Scotland recorded 165 indecent communications sent to children in 2014/15, up from 103 in the previous 12 months.

Only 15 offences were recorded in 2010 when new laws came into force.

The statistics were revealed as part of the NSPCC's annual How Safe Are Our Children? report.

Some 43% of children calling the NSPCC’s helpline, ChildLine, concern abuse.

In one case, a 13-year-old girl told the helpline: "I was being groomed online by men and it went on for years. Then people started finding out and getting involved.

"They didn't know the full extent but I spoke to the police. When they questioned me I felt so ashamed so I didn't tell them the full story.

"I feel like such a coward. I tried to kill myself recently because it's constantly on my mind."

These figures confirm our fears - Matt Forde

Matt Forde, head of service for NSPCC Scotland, said: “These figures confirm our fears that the internet is playing an increasing role in the sexual abuse of younger children in Scotland and across the UK as a whole.

“We welcome efforts by Police Scotland to tackle online sexual abuse. These figures show an increasing number of crimes are coming to the attention of the police and are being investigated. However, more needs to be done.”

The Scottish Government said the safety and well-being of all children and young people was a "key priority".

A spokesman added: "We will work continuously with Police Scotland, children's charities, parliament and other relevant stakeholders to protect children from abuse and keep them safe.

"Relationships, sexual health and parenthood education, delivered through Curriculum for Excellence, already plays a crucial role in protecting children and young people from child sexual exploitation and helping young people to identify abuse.

"The Police Scotland National Child Abuse Investigation Unit is also working to target, and bring to justice, those who seek to harm children."