'Endemic' number of children sending nude photos
28 January 2018, 10:59
An MSP is planning to launch a new nationwide film competition as part of her efforts to help raise awareness of the dangers of sending nude photos on social media.
Gillian Martin, who represents Aberdeenshire East, said the number of children sending such pictures online had reached an "endemic" level.
To raise more awareness amongst both young people and parents about the problem, she is hosting a members' debate in the Scottish Parliament on the issue on February 6.
After that the winners of a film competition she organised with Aberdeen's
North East College, challenging students there to highlight the problem in an innovative way, will have their worked screened in Holyrood.
The films will also go online, featuring on the DigiAye section of the Young Scot website.
Ms Martin, who was a lecturer at North East College before becoming an MSP, then wants to expand the contest into a annual event, for students from all over Scotland.
She became aware of the problem of youngsters sending naked photographs after dealing with cases of it in her constituency - including one instance where "an 11-year-old girl was pressured into sending nude images of herself to a much older boy".
The SNP MSP said of that girl: "Within an hour her image was all over the place, shared. To her credit she went and told her mother and she got the police involved."
But she described the sending of such images as "endemic", adding: "I don't say that lightly, this is happening all over the place.
"It's a massive strain on people's mental health, it's also illegal.
"But I also discovered that a lot of young people don't really see it as a big deal. And I don't think a lot of parents realise this is going on."
Using her teenage daughter and her friends as a "focus group" suggested to her that drama could prove an effective tool to raise awareness of the problems, prompting her to set up the student film competition.
She said: "One of the things I have wanted to do ever since I was elected is have a film competition in Holyrood and I thought this was an opportunity to do that not just a film competition from the point of view of getting young film makers into here but to have a film competition where they would make films about an issue that affects young people."