Police took action against 648 minors for sex-related crimes in 2012, up 23 percent from the year before, the National Police Agency said Thursday.
Data compiled by the agency revealed a notable increase of offenders among junior high school students.
“They may have been stimulated by indecent information on the Internet via smartphones,” an NPA official said. “The use of filtering services needs to be promoted to prevent juvenile delinquency.”
The number of minors who were arrested, taken into custody or went through other police procedures due to rape or indecent assault increased by 120 to 648. Of them, junior high school students accounted for 287 and high school students totaled 157.
Compared with 10 years ago, the number of junior high students grew by 79, while that of high school students fell by 39.
The data also showed that police investigated 260 cases of bullying at schools nationwide in 2012, a 2.3-fold increase from the 113 in 2011. The latest figure was the fourth-highest since 1984, when officials started compiling comparable statistics.
An NPA official said the figure may have increased because more schools sought police involvement amid growing attention to bullying after a junior high student killed himself in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, in October 2011.
Police arrested or took into custody 511 young people in connection with bullying, including 42 girls, up by 292 from the previous year.
The total comprised 384 at junior high schools, up by 223, 91 at high schools, up by 53, and 36 at elementary schools, up by 16.
Cases resulting in injury numbered 122, up by 65, followed by 74 cases involving other forms of violence, up by 56, and 20 cases of blackmail, up by 12.
In a multiple-answer survey of the perpetrators, the most common motives cited were that the victims were “weak or unresisting,” at 40.3 percent, “acted goody-goody or were cheeky,” at 18.4 percent, or were “dim-witted,” at 14.9 percent.
Another multiple-answer question on who the victims sought help from showed 74.0 percent cited parents, followed by teachers at 34.6 percent, police and other counseling organizations at 13.0 percent and friends at 4.7 percent, while 15.0 percent answered they talked to no one.
The NPA worked out guidelines in January to cope with cases of bullying, including prompt receipt of complaints and increased visits to schools by former police officers recruited by prefectural governments as “school supporters.”
Since the bullying involves children, some critics argued school authorities should avoid involving the police. “But that led to criticism that (the school) is exclusive. The mindset of school officials has been changing,” a senior education ministry official said.
The agency also reported Thursday that 65,448 minors were arrested under criminal law in 2012, down by 12,248 from the previous year in a nine-year downtrend. The recidivism rate among them was 33.9 percent, increasing for the 15th year in a row.