Children Kidnapped through Social Media Hit Record in Japan

Society

Tokyo, March 10 (Jiji Press)--The number of people aged under 18 who fell victim to kidnapping through the use of social media in Japan in 2021 rose by 11 from the previous year to a record 86, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The increase in children who were placed under someone else's control through being intimidated or enticed apparently reflects a rise in the number of cases involving runaway girls. As part of countermeasures, police are issuing warnings to inappropriate social media posts, such as those aimed at enticing runaway girls and other children.

Some girls who ran away from home tend to look for a place to stay on social media. Adults luring such children could be charged with kidnapping of minors even if the children give their consent.

According to the NPA, the number of children who fell prey to social media-linked kidnapping stood at two in 2012, 21 in 2017 and 75 in 2020. The recent surges are believed to have reflected the spread of smartphones.

In 2020, the police department of Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, started putting images with warning messages on suspicious Twitter posts, such as one saying, "Contact me if you are in trouble after running away from home." The Aichi police are also issuing warnings to social media posts from runaway girls and other children to prevent them from getting involved in crimes.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press