Kyodo News Friday, Feb. 20, 2009
Internet profile sites, a type of social networking, have become a more dangerous source of sex-related crime for children than dating Web sites, the National Police Agency said Thursday. In 2008, 792 children under 18 became victims of sex-related crimes such as pornography and prostitution as a result of using profile sites. The figure surpassed the 724 children who became sex-crime victims after accessing Net dating sites, the agency said. For the first time, the NPA looked at profile sites and other social networking sites in terms of the possibility of their use for illegal sex services. NPA officials judged that criminals have been shifting their focus from dating sites to social networking sites in search of potential sex-crime victims as authorities have significantly restricted the business of dating-site operators. The NPA said it will ask operators of profile and other social networking Web sites to delete messages suggesting illegal sex services. Sex-related crime cases involving children under 18 using these sites on the Internet totaled 994, the NPA said. There were 648 obscenity cases involving 545 victims, 299 child prostitution and pornography cases involving 204 victims, 17 rape cases involving 15 victims and two attempted murder cases involving two victims.