More 12 to 19-year-olds in Tayside have been reported for taking, sending or possessing indecent images of children than any other age group, the Tele can reveal.
Figures revealed as part of a Tele investigation show that 166 people were charged with the offence in the last three years across Tayside.
Of those charged by police, 55 were aged 19 or under while 35 people between 20 and 29 years old were charged.
Police say the vast majority of crimes recorded as committed by those aged 13 to 15-years-old consisted of the sending of private images among individuals and peer groups.
A freedom of information request revealed no one in their eighties or nineties has been charged in the last three years but two people in their seventies were.
Out of all age groups, 140 men were charged with the crime while 15 were women.
Keiran Watson, of the charity 18 and Under, said youngsters taking indecent photos of themselves was “scarily routine”.
He added: “We deal with some young people who have taken images and sent them to a person they trusted but they have then been sent around the school.
“The damage caused to the individual is huge and it can be massively traumatic.
“Despite that, I am heartened in a way with these figures, because it shows there will be repercussions for people who are distributing these images.”
A spokesman for NSPCC Scotland said the production and distribution of images of child abuse is a global criminal industry which “must be stopped in its tracks”.
He added: “It is also one of the fastest-growing forms of child sexual offending in Scotland as these figures show.
“However, these figures also highlight another alarming trend that many of the children reported to police for indecent images offences will include youngsters who have shared naked selfies.
“Young people who are caught ‘sexting’ put themselves at risk of sexual exploitation, grooming and cyber-bullying, while they could also face the prospect of a criminal record if they are reported to police.
“NSPCC Scotland is urging parents to talk to children about the risks and also calling on social network providers and other technology platforms to realise that they are the key enablers of online child sexual abuse and make a serious commitment to tackling it.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said of the 55 recorded crimes in total across the three-year period, children aged 13-15 years were responsible for 33 crimes with the remainder — 22 crimes — committed by young adults aged 16-19 years.
She added: “No crimes were committed by young children under 12 years.
“The vast majority of crimes recorded as committed by those aged 13-15 consisted of the sending of private images and photos amongst individuals and peer groups.
“In all but a very small number of cases the child responsible was provided with a restorative warning and/or referred to an external agency for intervention.
“In total, three males — all aged 15 — were reported to the procurator fiscal due to wider issues specific to each case, including related offending leading to the threshold for a report to the procurator fiscal being met.”
Superintendent Robert Dow added: “Police Scotland Tayside Division and partners are committed to keeping children safe, including in respect of those responsible for the possession and sharing of indecent images of children, with specific focus always placed on prevention, education and support.
“The adopting of a child protection approach allows us to identify children potentially at risk, and at an early stage implement processes centred on support and the needs of the individual child.”