The number of minors who fell prey to sexual and other crimes through the use of social media in the first half of 2018 dropped from a year earlier but remained high, provisional data by the National Police Agency showed Thursday.
A total of 856 minors under 18 fell victim, down 63 from the same period the previous year, which had seen the highest number since comparable data became available in 2008.
Of the overall figure, 331 were victims of sexual misconduct and other crimes in violation of an ordinance on juvenile protection, 271 were victims of child pornography and 203 were involved in child prostitution.
Thirty-eight minors were involved in more serious crimes, including 16 abductees, 14 rape victims and three high school girls who were murdered in a serial killing last year in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture. The three were counted in the 2018 figure as police dealt with their cases this year.
By age, most victims, at 459, were high school students, followed by 299 junior high school students and 25 elementary schoolchildren.
In total, 702 people met the perpetrators in person, of whom 211 said they did so to get money while 94 cited sexual motives.
About 40 percent, or 342 victims, used Twitter, while 136 fell prey using Line and Himabu, a popular messaging app for students.
To protect children from becoming victims, online community websites and social media operators such as Line Corp. and DeNA Co. in July 2017 set up a group in collaboration with the NPA to share efforts to counter crimes.