Police to step up youth guidance in fight against underage sexual exploitation

The National Police Agency (NPA) plans to soon instruct all officers around the nation to step up guidance for minors who make Internet postings offering themselves sexually, in an effort to combat underage sex crimes.

Until now, police departments have generally not acted unless minors make repeated sexual postings, but under the new policy they will take a tougher stance. The NPA also hopes to encourage parents to talk to their children under the new policy.

When police provide guidance to a minor who has shown problematic behavior, a record of the issue is created and kept on file until the person turns 20, and police notify the parent or guardian and may notify the minor’s school as well, depending on the behavior.

Since April this year, police forces in 10 prefectures have been testing the new policy, giving guidance to minors when “cyber patrol” officers found that they had made problem postings online. Having been deemed effective, the policy is now to be adopted nationwide.

Partly thanks to a 2008 revision to the law on dating websites that required operators to delete postings advertising sexual activity, the number of cases of underage prostitution and sexual crimes against minors has fallen from 724 in 2008 to 218 in 2012.

The law also forbids the use of dating sites by minors, but nonetheless there has been a rise in the number of minors that made sexual postings that led to arrests, from 119 in 2008 to between 220 and 280 in 2009 and later. The first half of this year saw 96 minors involved in such postings, a 38 person drop from the same period last year, but still a high number.

Based on the NPA’s analysis, minors and those caught paying for sexual services with them often became involved in underage sexual encounters without much thought.

“In many cases the minors are posting without thinking that they are doing anything wrong,” says a senior NPA official. “By providing thorough guidance, we want to reduce the number of minors becoming victims or perpetrators of sexual crimes,” the official said.

October 03, 2013(Mainichi Japan)

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