Child sex abuse cases linked to messaging apps on the rise

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Sexual predators have increasingly been using popular smartphone messaging apps such as Line and KakaoTalk to contact children by exchanging IDs, with 262 minors victimized in such cases in the first half of this year, more than doubling from a year earlier, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

Of them, Line logged the largest 120 minors but marked a drop of 30 people from the second half of last year, according to data released by the agency. The agency said the decline — the first on a semiannual basis — was attributed to a change in Line’s system to make it difficult for those aged below 18 to trade IDs with adults on open forums.

KakaoTalk, which has been slower in taking preventive measures, accounted for 117, nearly twice as many from the second half of last year, the agency said.

Messaging apps enable smartphone users to contact other people anonymously, without knowing their phone numbers or e-mail addresses.

Most, or 133 minors, were subjected to sexual acts, followed by 79 victims of prostitution and 30 for child pornography.

ID exchanges were linked to 36 victims of sexual offenses in the second half of 2012, the first time the agency looked into the link. The half-year total has since been rising, hitting 117 in the first half of last year and 235 in the following six months.

September 18, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

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