Children victimized on online boards

JIJI

Children under 18 have fallen victim to sexual and other crimes more quickly by exchanging identification information for free telephone and communications applications, such as the popular Line texting service, on online bulletin boards, National Police Agency data show.

“The result shows that encounters via ID exchange bulletin boards are more dangerous” than all social network services, including online game sites and self-introduction pages, an NPA official said, warning that users must recognize the possibility that people approaching them may include those intending to sexually molest them.

In the first six months of the year, 117 children fell victim to sexual and other crimes after exchanging their ID with their eventual attacker on such a bulletin board. Of the 113 cases in which the time between the exchange and the crime was determined, 52.2 percent happened within a week.

The proportion was higher than 39.6 percent for crimes that happened within a week of contact through all social network services, according to the NPA data.

The percentage of children victimized within two days of exchanging their ID on a bulletin board stood at 27.4 percent, 10 points higher than the total.

Free communications apps are popular among smartphone users. They are handy for exchanging written messages and voice conversations even if the two sides do not know each other’s phone number or email address, as long as they know each other’s ID.

There are many bulletin boards on the Internet where users post their ID to make friends and look for playmates. Many are not authorized by social network service providers.

Of children victimized after giving out their ID for a free communications app, 26.3 percent said they met the attacker in hopes of getting money and presents.

Some victims believed invitations for meals and offers of presents from victimizers without questioning the nature of such contacts, NPA officials said.