Rise in Northern Ireland children posting indecent pictures on internet
A former senior police officer has said a huge rise in referrals to the PSNI's child internet protection team reflects "the reality".
Jim Gamble was speaking after figures obtained by the BBC showed the number of referrals had more than doubled - from 125 in 2016/17 to 280 in 2017/18.
The findings concern people aged 18 and under who uploaded indecent images via social media.
"These figures simply reflect the reality that the self-generation of images with young people continues to be a significant issue," Mr Gamble said.
"Young people engaging with other young people are taking risks by sending each other indecent images.
"In regards to under-18s, we have to look at this in the context of how the image was captured and how the image was shared."
Mr Gamble said images shared between two children under 18, where there is consent, should not be dealt with as a criminal issue. He described this behaviour as "a lack of judgment".
But Detective Sergeant Elaine McCormill told the BBC that some children were committing criminal offences without even realising it.
"We quickly realised there was a correlation in the rise of indecent images of children," she said. "Many were self-generated and sent by the child."
Mr Gamble, who is chief executive of the Ineqe safeguarding consultancy, added he has noticed an increase in "predatory behaviour" in under-18s.