KYOTO – With more than 167,000 students studying at 49 universities, junior colleges and technical schools, and with large numbers of high school students visiting on trips, it’s no surprise that Kyoto Prefecture can feel like a giant campus.
Downtown Kyoto and neighborhoods near major universities draw huge numbers of young men and women out for a good time, while train and bus stations disgorge teenagers and young adults, sometimes chattering, sometimes sleepy, on their way to or from class or a sightseeing spot with classmates. But as Kyoto police have warned, it’s teenagers who are most at risk from perverts with a camera.
The Kyoto Prefectural Police said 51 percent of the victims of illicit photography reported last year were their teens. In 38 percent of the cases, they were photographed on commercial premises, especially shopping malls, while 35 percent were snapped in train and bus stations.
In 57 percent of the cases, the alleged perpetrators were charged with illegally taking photos with smartphones. A further 20 percent used regular cell phones and 13 percent used digital cameras.
Just over two-thirds of the accused perpetrators were in their 20s and 30s, while one in five was over 40. Only eight percent of the perpetrators were 50 or older.
Prefectural governments and police departments, including Kyoto, suggest practical steps high school or college-aged females can take to minimize the chance of becoming an unwitting victim of a pervert with a camera. These include pressing down their skirts when on elevators and staircases, but also being more aware of their surroundings while shopping or using their smartphone while standing.
It’s advice so simple some might think it a waste of government time and money to be posting on official government websites. However, a March survey of more than 1,200 teenagers and parents by Digital Arts, a Tokyo-based IT security firm, showed 95 percent of high school girls had mobile devices, and that nearly 30 percent of all high school students were using them between three and six hours a day, checking e-mail, sending text messages, playing games, and so absorbed that they are unaware of their surroundings or what other shoppers, passengers, or people walking or standing behind them might be doing with a smart phone camera.