The number of children seeking help from Childline about online sexual abuse in the last year has more than doubled.
Thousands of youngsters sought help after being sent abusive or sexial images on social networks online.
Locally, the charity’s Aberdeen centre counselled with 168 cases of online sexual abuse.
Elaine Chalmers, area manager for ChildLine in Scotland, said that sex offenders use the internet to access indecent images and to groom children:
“Social networks are an easy place to hide your real identity, and can be the first step in offenders encouraging potential victims to other sites or even to meet in person.”
“The likelihood is that these figures are a drop in the ocean because groomed child victims often do not report abuse, and many young people don’t even recognise what they’re experiencing as illegal.
“It’s vital that we encourage children and young people to talk about what they do online and who they communicate with. The risks involved in online contact are heightened in cases where children and young people feel they have to keep their experiences secret.
“Where you uncover inappropriate contact with a child you must report it – for every instance we know about, there may be many more children at risk.”
Anyone looking for advice about keeping children safe online, or concerned about the safety and welfare of a child, can contact the NSPCC’s 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email email@example.com.