DRUG dealers are increasingly targetting school pupils by using social media, a new report has revealed.

There have been growing fears for some time that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in particular have been abused to peddle illegal substances to children.

Now academic research has revealed widespread worries in those parts of Scotland hit hardest by gangsterism that dealers are using social networks to market their drugs in schools.

READ MORE: Drug gangs preying on the weak to use homes for crimes

A new report, called Community Experiences of Serious Organised Crime, gives voice to front-line workers and residents and underlined the importance of education authorities in tackling gangland figures preying on the country’s most vulnerable.

Researchers found: “Drug dealing around schools, often facilitated by social media, was seen as a problem in a number of areas.”

The report, carried out by experts at Glasgow, Stirling and other universities for the Scottish Government and under the auspices of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, cited concerns that much of the focus on drug dealing and addiction was on traditional class A products like heroin and its substitute, methadone.

The report said: “Drug prevention work was widely perceived as being too narrowly focused on older heroin-using methadone-maintained drug users, with more emergent recreational and poly-drug markets not being effectively tackled. In particular, social media-facilitated school-based dealing was a frequent concern.”

In quotes: Voices from frontline of gangland culture

Authorities in Glasgow have been aware of a former pupils targetting schools with campus police officers and teachers working together to tackle the issue.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said: “Our schools will work with a range of partners in the community – including community police officers and campus officers – to make sure the right message is being given to our young people.

“They will also facilitate ways in which young people are encouraged to seek help and advice – and pass on information.”

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ask users to report anyone selling drugs.

Life of crime mapped out: Gangs target six-year-olds to deal drugs

The academic report cited one police officer suggesting social media and mobile phones could be used against dealers. The officer proposed an app young people could use to anonymously report problems.