Child victims of SNS-linked crimes hit high in Jan.-June

12:00 am, October 16, 2015
Jiji Press
TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A record 796 people aged under 18 in Japan fell victim to sex crimes and other offenses through social networking services in January-June, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The number of such victims rose by 98, or 14 percent, from a year earlier, marking the highest level since the agency started collecting data in 2008.

According to the NPA, the number of children victimized via chat sites surged in the first half of this year.

The number of victims fell substantially at sites that have taken crime prevention measures, but unsecured chat sites became targets of perpetrators, an NPA official said. The agency has been urging the operators of such sites to check the users’ ages.

In 2014, a record 1,421 children fell prey to obscene acts, including prostitution and pornography, by people they came to know through social networking services.

Of them, 439 people were users of bulletin boards for exchanging identifications used for free smartphone communications apps, such as Line and KakaoTalk, pushing up the total figure.

After some ID exchange site operators in November last year started requiring users to verify that they are aged 18 or older, the number of victims plunged to 119 in January-June from 262 a year before. The figure accounted for 15 percent of the total, down from 38 percent.

By contrast, the number of victims surged at chat sites that prohibit or restrict the use of people aged under 18 but conduct no age verification. At the three most abused such sites, the number of victims more than tripled to 247.

Chat sites are not covered by the law to regulate online dating sites as they do not limit the use to establishing a romantic relationship, according to NPA officials.

The number of victims among Twitter users rose 1.9-fold to 85 in the first half. The NPA is urging users to be on alert, noting that some perpetrators took advantage of Twitter’s search functions to reach the victims.

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