A record number of victims in child pornography cases from the first half of 2017 were threatened or duped into taking pictures of themselves using smartphones and other devices and sending them over social media, a National Police Agency (NPA) report has disclosed.
The number of victims who were made to send selfie nude photos from January to June 2017 reached a record high of 263 people -- 10 percent higher than a year earlier -- making up almost half of all child pornography cases. Of the victims, 139 were in junior high school, 101 in high school, and 17 in elementary school, with 10 male students included among the victims.
In many of the cases, the receiver of the photos would use Twitter or other social media websites to get close to the victim before asking for the pictures, leading the NPA to call for caution. A total of 85.9 percent of victims reported that they had "never met" the person they sent the pictures to, compared to only 6.8 percent who knew the receiver and 6.5 percent who were in a relationship with the person.
Of those who had never met the receiver, 91.6 percent of victims met the person on Twitter, the messaging application LINE, or other social media services. The NPA reports that the receiver would often pretend to be the same age as the victim, listening to their concerns and asking for their names and the name of their school. The victim would then be threatened with the prospect of their secrets being exposed if they did not send the nude photos.
The total number of child pornography victims for the first half of 2017 was 594 people. The number fell dramatically from 777 cases in 2016, which included many children who had photos secretly taken of them at almost the same time, but the cases still look to be increasing. Other than being made to take pictures of themselves, there were 84 victims of rape or forcible indecency and 79 cases of other sexual misconduct.
Of the rise in selfie nude photos, a representative of the NPA stated, "The rule that you 'shouldn't follow strangers' is the same on the internet. We would like children to understand that it's difficult to recover the photos once they spread across the web, and the damage could continue."