The number of minors, or children under the age of 18, who fell victim to crimes via social media networking services increased in 2013. According to the National Police Agency, the number increase by 20% from 2012, resulting in 1,293 cases. The number was the highest ever recorded since 2008.
It was also the fifth consecutive year that the cases reported were over a thousand. Many of the cases recorded involved crimes wherein the victims downloaded free messaging applications, such as Line and KakaoTalk. The victims often posted identification codes assigned to their mobile phones on forums and bulletin boards so they could exchange ID codes with other people who want to communicate with them. On the other hand, fewer crime victims via games and social networking services websites were recorded. As such, police concluded that most suspects are preying on minors with these mobile phone applications. While users of Line and KakaoTalk do not exchange phone numbers or email addresses, others may contact them through user IDs assigned to them that they post online.
In 2012, police recognized 36 victims of child prostitution and pornography who exchanged their user IDs in bulletin boards and forums. The following year, victims of such cases rose by 9.8% to a staggering 352 cases. Out of the 352, Line users made up 232, and 85 users from KakaoTalk. Line Corp. has already prohibited minors from using IDs starting at the end of 2013, but Kakao Japan Corp of KakaoTalk is yet to issue restrictions on the IDs they issue. Police have already begun talking to and warning minors who offer compensated dating services and things like selling underwear on the Internet. Out of the 158 minors the police met with over a period of eight months (April-December), eight were boys around 15.8 years old and the youngest was 13 years old. 97 of them were high school students, 32 in junior high school, and 23 were not attending school. Two in three already have a record with the police, said the NPA.
[via Japan Times]