THIS wik jist passit, Gillian Martin MSP an a group o North-East loons an quines got the baa rollin in the fecht against ane o the maist hairmful dangers that comes wi an increase o minors haein sic easy access tae the internet an social media: the sennin an sharin o pictures o theirsels an their pals in the nude.

The issue o bairns sharin sinsitive picters is a fairly new phenomenom. It has ainly been able tae boom alangside the success o apps sic as Snapchat an Facebook Messenger. Ye micht say its creepit up on us an loupit oot o naeplace. In ae instant bairns aa owre the kintrae were birlin aboot photaes tantamount tae child pornography. Soceity as a hail, an lawmakers in particular, got a hell o a fleg.

Efter the general stamagaster that greeted this new phenomena, a few fowk hae got theirsles organised thegither, an 2018 micht weel see the stert o an effective battle tae stap the production an sharin o sic images. Last Tuesday, Gillian Martin hostit a Members Debate in the Scots Parliament, aa aboot encouragin cyber resilience amongst young anes in Scotland. The debate, fit very aptly teuk place on World Internet Saftey Day, wis follaed by an event, far twa films, fit were producet and directet entirely by students at Aiberdeen’s NESCOL, an funded by Young Scot’s Digi, Aye? campaign, were premiered tae a haunfae o MSPs, includin Maree Todd, Minister for Childcare an Early ‘ears, as weel as a representative fae Young Scot.

A memmer o ilka pairty that sits in Holyrood had somethin tae contribute tae the clash, shawin aabdy jist foo important it is that somethin is deen tae empower bairns fan it cams tae cyber resilience. Ruth Maguire, MSP for Cunninghame Sooth, statet that this is an issue fit affects “ilka constituency an ilka pairt o Scotland, aa genders, aa social classes an a wide variety o age groups”. This is somethin fit is happenin here an noo, an affects maist young fowk in ae wye or anither. Ash Denham telt the gaitherin that since noo sextin has become “the norm”, it can be affa difficult fir bairns tae resist peer pressure. Whilst maist o the MSPs that were taakin pairt experience the worry associatet wi online risks fae the perspective o a parent, Ah wis interestit tae hear Ross Greer’s pynt o view, seein as he’s sae young in comparison tae maist ither MSPs, an has grown up, lik Ah hiv, durin a period fan the sharin o sinsitive photaes has been becomin mair an mair common.

Underlinin the severity o the issue wisna aa that the debate achieved though; the MSPs also gied their thochts on some o the consequences faced bi young fowk fa share sensitive picters. Evidently, for a young person, haein their image “leakit” can be a traumatic experience, an can hae a laistin effect on the person involved’s míntal health. Nae mair than five year ago, fan Ah wis still attendin a North-East secondary scuil, Ah witnessed time an time again ma peers bein bullied for faaen in tae this cyber-trap. The terrifyin thing bein that cyber bullyin increases the risk o suicide by 30%. I spake wi Helen King, a youth development officer for Aiberdeen charity Choices, on this sair subject. Helen warks wi scuils haudin warkshops on child sexual explotation an pornography, as weel as support groups for quines. She telt us that “predators fa seek tae groom young fowk online will sometimes use an initial sivsitive image tae exort mair explicit images, sexual acts or money”. Ye canna forget the legal implications either, or the affa effect sic a situation can hae on a young person’s reputation an career prospects. Jist the push o a button can, and at times, does, end in minors takkin their ain lives or endin up on the sex offenders’ register.

So fit can we dae aboot it? Gillian Martin said hersel, “scuils taakin full responsibility is nae fair an nae realistic”. So, fa should actually be educatin bairns an makin sure that they dinna put themselves in dangerous situations by sextin an sendin nude photaes? The general consensus at the Members Debate, on the ither haun, wis that there’s a sufficient amoont o laas an regulations anent the unsafe use o the internet in place, but it is the duty o baith parents an scuil’s tae educate bairns on the dangers and rules, as weel as encourage them tae spik aboot it amongst themsels. But then ye hae the question o fa is gaun to educate the parents an teachers on foo tae deal wi it? That’s far ma generation comes in, the anes in their twinties fa are noo auld enough and mature enough tae ken better, but at ae pynt didna. Mony fowk fa are roon aboot ma age hiv experienced first-haun fit it’s like tae share somethin online an hae it come back tae bite them on the bahookie, so we can relate tae scuil pupils in the same situation, but we can also noo see foo worryin it is fae the perspective o an adult. Ah think it’s us young adults’ responsibility tae brig the gap atween parents an teachers, an the bairns that they are tryin tae help, sae that they can better understaun aneanither an the problem at haun.

Noo, the problem o Scotlan’s young anes puttin themsels in danger online is nivver gaun tae be eradicated in jist ae day, by ae event or ae debate. Fooiver, noo the issue is on the table, fowk are spikkin aboot it, an the students at NESCOL hiv providet an invaluable tuil for parents an teachers wi their films “Cyber Attraction” an “Over Exposure” (whilk can be fun on the Young Scot website), by producin material made by young fowk, aimed at young fowk, on an issue fit affects predominantly young fowk. Noo it’s jist a case o puttin their guid wark tae use, an gettin on wi spreadin even mair awareness o foo tae keep Scotlan’s bairns safe online.