09/09/2015 04:00 BST | Updated 08/09/2016 06:12 BST

Hundreds Of Children Quizzed Over 'Sexting'

Seth Wenig/AP
In this July 27, 2015, photo, Giulia Pugliese, 15, right, posts a picture to Snapchat while her friend Isabella Cimato, 17, left, and her cousin Arianna Schaden, 14, look on at Roosevelt Field shopping mall in Garden City, N.Y. Teens arent roaming around at the mall for kicks during back-to-school. Theyre researching the looks they want online and follow popular hashtags on social media so they can piece together looks before they get there. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Children as young as six have been questioned by police over "sexting", according to new figures.

More than 1,000 youngsters under the age of 18 have been investigated for sending nude or explicit images of themselves on social media or messaging services since 2012, data obtained by the Sun through Freedom of Information requests suggests.

The number of investigations into under-18s for making, possessing or distributing indecent images rose from 150 three years ago to 742 in the past year, while a quarter of those arrested were under the age of 13.

It comes after the National Crime Agency (NCA) launched a campaign in June, revealing it received on average one report a day of a child protection issue linked to the craze.

Children's charity the NSPCC said: "We don't want to see children criminalised. But while many of them may see sexting as harmless fun it is illegal and can leave young people vulnerable to blackmail and bullying, or attract the attention of sex offenders as the images may get shared online."

The charity has previously said its ChildLine service provided 1,300 counselling sessions last year for young people worried about sexting.

Last week, a 14-year-old boy claimed he was added to a police database after sending a naked picture of himself to a female classmate. The incident had been recorded as a crime, the boy's mother said, even though he was not arrested or charged.