In Kungsbacka in western Sweden four girls aged 14 to 17 have contacted the police after falling victim to compromising pictures and sexual comments posted by anonymous users on the Secret app, SVT reports.
Students at a school in Helsingborg have reported similar incidents, while schools in Stenungsund and Lerum have expressed concern about the widespread use of the app among pupils.
“All of society needs to take responsibility, including parents,” said Birgitta Dellenhed, head of a Gothenburg police unit specialized in tackling youth crime.
Dalhed said the emergence of new social media often left police powerless to take effective action, at least in the initial stages.
“We know in a lot of cases that we can’t solve the crimes since we can’t get any information out of the companies,” she told news agency TT.
The 2012 riots in Gothenburg that stemmed from abuses on Instagram had served as an alarm clock for the police, she added.
Dalhed has been tasked with creating a special criminal code for abuse on the internet, an area that remains largely unregulated.
Secret, an app launched in the United States in January 2014, enables users to connect anonymously with friends in their contact book, as well as with friends of friends.
Several Swedish girls who spoke to SVT said it was especially damaging that they almost certainly knew the people spreading anonymous rumours or making nasty comments about their appearance.