THE number of children facing criminal charges for attacks on transgender people increased to its highest-ever recorded rate last year, a "deeply troubling" report on hate crime in Scotland has revealed.

More than 10 per cent of 'transgender identity aggravated crime" reported to Scottish prosecutors involved children. In the two previous years no children were charged with such offences.

Last night, campaigners said the findings were "alarming" and demanded improved protection for vulnerable and isolated young people facing transphobic bullying.

A Crown Office report showed that all reported hate crimes against transgender people increased by a third last year.

The catalogue of abuse shows the number of all transgender hate crime charges rose from 30 to 40 between 2015/16 and 2016/17.

"This is the highest number of charges" since legislation introducing a specific category of hate crime for transgender identity came into force in 2010, the Crown Office report said.

However, six of the 40 reports of transgender hate crimes charges were against children. The charges were referred to the Children's Reporter – which deals with alleged offences involving under-18s.

In 2015-16 and in 2014-15 no transgender abuse cases were referred to the Children's Reporter, while in 2013-14 and 2012-13 one was taken forward in each year. There were two referred in 2011-12 and none in 2010-11.

Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokesperson Monica Lennon called for additional education among young people about transgender equality.

The Central Scotland MSP, who obtained the figures, also called for better support for victims of homophobic bullying in schools.

Lennon said: “These are deeply troubling figures that should concern us all. No one should face violence because of their gender identity. It is particularly concerning to see such a sharp rise in attacks on transgender people among children and young people.

“Clearly there are underlying issues here about education and inequality that need to be addressed.

“Scotland has made tremendous strides towards equal rights in recent years, but these figures show that we still need to make progress and should not be complacent.”

Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, said the findings represented a worrying trend.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the union was campaigning for firm anti-transphobic policies to be put in place.

Flanagan said: "The figure may be a result of greater awareness, but irrespective of that it's worrying that we have these findings.

"It shows the importance of having clear anti-bullying policies in place in schools."

The Scottish Government has launched a review of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex (LGBTI) equality in schools.

A working group has been set up to examine how life in schools for LGBTI young people in Scotland can be improved.

Delegates at this year's SNP conference voted to set up the group to work with the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign to look at make it a legal requirement that LGBTI issues are part of the school curriculum.

Jordan Daly of the TIE campaign, said the increase in transphobic attacks showed Scotland was not as enlightened and progressive on LGBTI equality as is sometimes suggested.

He said: "These figures are alarming and further highlight that we all have a lot of work to do to ensure that every transgender young person in Scotland is safe, supported and free to be who they are.

"That there has been such a comparable increase in the prevalence of hate crimes towards the transgender community is indicative of the stark reality that, as a nation, we are not as enlightened or progressive on LGBTI issues as we are often led to believe.

"Unfortunately homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in young people often stems from a lack of awareness, and this is why it is imperative that all schools are proactive in tackling such attitudes or behaviours whenever they arise."

Speaking about TIE's work with ministers, Daly added: "We have made realistic proposals to the Scottish Government as to how we can begin to tackle anti LGBTI attitudes in young people and in our schools, and we are currently sitting on a joint Governmental Working Group in order to implement them."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said ministers would consider whether to pass new legislation on the issue.

The spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is committed to building strong, resilient and supportive communities for all and we are now taking forward an ambitious programme of work in response to the report of the independent advisory group on hate crime, prejudice and community cohesion.

“We have also established the LGBTI inclusive education working group to examine how the education experience for LGBTI young people in Scotland can be improved.

"The group will consider whether legislation is required for schools to be proactive in tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, as well as recording specific incidents of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools.

"We look forward to receiving its recommendations in due course.”