Police warn of increase in minors taking selfies in child porn cases
Some 40 percent of child pornography cases investigated nationwide last year involved naked selfies of minors, including many cases where they willfully involved themselves in the crime, warns the National Police Agency (NPA).
The NPA says that in 2015 there were 905 people under 18 who were found to have been the victims of child pornography cases, the most on record. Of them, 376, or about 40 percent, took the pornographic images themselves. The number taking nude selfies was 1.8 times what was recorded for 2012, the first year such statistics were taken. Over half the victims in 2015 were junior high school students, 39 percent were high school students, and 5 percent were elementary school students.
The Nakamura Police Station of Aichi Prefectural Police has sent the cases of five men to prosecutors on suspicion of breaking the anti-child pornography law by having female junior-high and high school students — aged 14 to 17 at the time — send pornographic photos of themselves between January and July of this year. According to the station, the students came to know the men through a friend-making app and, when asked for naked photos, willingly sent them. The reasons they gave for providing the photos included, “I wanted someone to pay attention to me,” and “They said they would give me app stickers if I sent them.” The students apparently were all “regular” kids without past records of misconduct.
Some minors have also been charged with crimes for their involvement in child pornography. Since November last year, the Aichi Prefectural Police’s Nishibiwajima Police Station has handled cases for seven boys and girls aged 13 to 17 at the time for photographing and publically displaying naked images of themselves on Twitter. As for their motives, the minors said, “I wanted to get more followers,” and “I wanted to be given preferential treatment by people.” They also reportedly said they thought they wouldn’t be caught because they hadn’t shown their faces in the photos and they posted anonymously.
At one junior high school within the jurisdiction of the station, there was a fad in 2014 of some female students sending their naked selfies to male students, and some boys who received these photos were disciplined by police. Both the male and female students said they did this “for fun.”
There are also cases occurring all around the nation of those who receive such images later threatening to release them on the internet.
An investigative source points out a problem where minors carelessly trust others on the internet, making themselves vulnerable as they don’t think about the risks.
Masashi Yasukawa, head director of Zenkoku Web Counseling Kyogikai (national web counseling association) says, “Since they can easily take cute pictures of themselves with smartphones, children take selfies without hesitation. It is necessary for children and their parents to discuss and learn from these incidents and raise awareness.”