Record number of children victimized over social media

7:49 pm, April 16, 2015

Jiji Press

A record 1,421 children aged under 18 in Japan fell victim to obscene acts including pornography and prostitution by people they got acquainted with through social networking services in 2014, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The number of victims was up by 128, or 10 percent, from the preceding year, marking the highest level since the police started the survey in 2008.

The total included 682 high school students, 536 junior high school students and 38 elementary school students. Victims aged 15 or under accounted for 743, with the youngest victim being nine years old.

Of the total, 439 people fell victim to obscenities by perpetrators they came to know through the use of free smartphone communications applications, such as Line, and bulletin boards for ID exchanges including KakaoTalk, up by 87 from 2013.

As operators of such ID exchange sites started to check users’ ages in November to prevent the use by people 17 years old and younger, however, the number of victims in the second half of 2014 decreased by 85 from the first half to 177.

Meanwhile, the number of victims through the use of Twitter in 2014 came to 108, up sharply from 19 in 2013.

“Twitter has no function to check inappropriate messages, and perpetrators are taking advantage of this,” an NPA official said. The agency has been urging the Twitter service provider to take corrective measures.

Of all victims, 1,118, or 79 percent, accessed these sites on smartphones. The percentage was up from 15 percent in 2012 and 57 percent in 2013.

Of those whose circumstances before they were victimized are known, 95 percent did not use filtering software that prevents access to inappropriate Web sites, and 54 percent were not told by their parents to be careful in using the Internet.

Only less than 10 percent were given specific warnings about Internet use or had their Internet use restricted.

The NPA official said, “We want parents and schools to fully understand risks associated with SNS services and to have talks with children on such risks

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