Gillian Martin: Sending of nude photos by children ‘endemic’

Gillian Martin MSP. Aberdeenshire East

An MSP is planning a new nationwide film competition to help raise awareness among children about the dangers of sending nude photos on social media.

Gillian Martin, who represents Aberdeenshire East, said the number of children sending such pictures had reached an “endemic” level.

To raise awareness among young people and parents she is hosting a members’ debate on the issue in the Scottish Parliament on February 6.

The winners of a film competition – organised with North East College and challenging students to highlight the problem in an innovative way – will have their worked screened at Holyrood.

The films will be posted on the DigiAye section of the Young Scot website.

Ms Martin, who was a lecturer at the college before her election, wants to expand the contest into a national annual event.

She became aware of the problem of young people sending nudes after dealing with cases 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 be an effective tool in raising awareness.

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.”