NCA probes one case every day of children 'sexting'
Child protection officers are investigating one case involving "sexting" every day, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has disclosed.
Intervention has been required to safeguard youngsters at risk after sending nude or explicit images of themselves on social media or messaging services.
The practice has become "normal" among teenagers but can leave them vulnerable to exploitation or blackmail, the NCA said.
On average, the NCA's centre for tackling abuse, Ceop Command, receives one report a day of a child protection issue linked to sexting.
In some instances youngsters are targeted by strangers who try to blackmail them over images they have been tricked into taking.
Other cases involve recipients of private messages forwarding them to others or a user posting a picture of themselves on a website or social media with low privacy settings.
The NCA is today launching a campaign to give parents advice on how to respond if their child becomes involved in sexting.
Zoe Hilton, head of safeguarding at Ceop Command, said staff received reports of "difficult and sometimes harmful" situations linked to sexting.
"We are talking about cases where sexting has led to a child protection issue," she said.
"Something that has started out as relatively innocent or normal for the young people involved has unfortunately turned into something that is quite nasty and needs intervention in order to safeguard and protect the child.
"Some of the worst examples are children sharing images of themselves and making themselves very vulnerable. That image gets into the wrong hands or that image is used to blackmail the child for further images.
"The images get into the hands of someone who uses it to exploit the child or seek to harm or disadvantage the child in some way."