KYOTO -- Amid a growing number of cases in which children in Japan have been victimized via demands for "nude selfies," Kyoto Prefectural Police recently held a seminar for high school students using simulation software to show how social media exchanges can escalate into sexual exploitation.
The Kyoto police cybercrime division hosted the seminar at Kyoto Prefectural Kyoto Subaru High School in the city of Kyoto's Fushimi Ward on April 5, and 21 students in the school's informatics department participated. When the students opened simulation software on tablet computers, a conversation between a man and woman started. The students picked the woman's responses to the man's demand for naked photos from choices that appeared on the screen, such as "send photos" or "ignore."
In the simulated exchange, the man claimed that he was friends with a popular YouTuber and asked the woman to send photos in exchange for letting her meet with the online celebrity. The man's demands then escalated to the point where he asked for nude photos. When the woman rejected the demand, the man would threaten to release her photos online.
Prefectural police warn children that they should never send nude photos to other people, and if solicited, they should take screenshots of the exchanges and consult with adults or police. Second-year student Koki Matsumoto, who participated in the April 5 seminar, expressed surprise at how easily regular exchanges online could develop into crimes.
According to Kyoto police, of the 1,458 minors who fell victim to sex crimes across Japan in 2021, 514 people -- the highest proportion among the victims -- were targeted in connection with nude selfies. Police warn that once a person sends their naked pictures, it could escalate to the perpetrator demanding money, and lead to the person becoming a victim of sexual violence.
The cybercrime division's internet security support center director Yutaka Kirihata warned the students that malicious adults solicit minors with manipulative tactics like saying they could introduce the minors to celebrities. "We want you to think what would happen if you sent your photos, and if you do become a victim please promptly consult with adults," Kirihata said.
(Japanese original by Kotaro Chigira, Kyoto Bureau)