NPA: Sex crimes against young kids via social media surge

March 15, The Asahi Shimbun

The number of elementary school pupils falling victim to crimes through social media has jumped nearly fivefold in 10 years, police data showed.

Last year, 1,665 children under 18 were targeted on social media for criminal activity, down 3.9 percent from the previous year, according to a National Police Agency report released on March 14.

Of them, a record high 225 children, or 13.5 percent, were victims of serious crimes, such as non-consensual sexual intercourse. The number was up 40 percent from the previous year.

Abduction and non-consensual sexual intercourse each accounted for more than 40 percent of all serious crimes, while other sex-related offenses made up more than 10 percent.

Cases of non-consensual sexual intercourse involving children nearly doubled from the previous year.

Junior high school students and high school students each accounted for more than 40 percent of all victims. The 139 victimized elementary school pupils, up 25 from the previous year, made up 8.3 percent of the total.

More than half of the elementary school pupils were victims of child porn, followed by non-consensual sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual abuse.

Nearly 60 percent of all victims met the perpetrators on X, formerly known as Twitter, or Instagram.

In more than 70 percent of cases, the children were the ones who made the first contact by, for example, sharing their profiles, interests and other information not directly linked to the crimes.

In some cases, the children fell victim to crimes in virtual spaces.

In May, Kyoto prefectural police arrested a man suspected of using his avatar to sexually exploit a 10-year-old girl by forcing her to share indecent images.

The total number of child sexual abuse cases, including those unrelated to social media, increased slightly from the previous year to 4,418.

Non-consensual sexual intercourse cases rose 49.6 percent to 709 while other sex-related offenses increased 15.7 percent to 1,694 cases.

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