Tue, Feb 13, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Summer sees rise in child exploitation cases

ONLINE PREDATORS:A task force has been formed to launch an information campaign in schools to teach students about the dangers of sharing private photographs online

By Wu Liang-yi and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Last year saw an increase in the number of child exploitation incidents during the summer holiday, with a majority of them involving explicit photographs and videos of minors, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday.

Last year, 205 reports were filed in July and another 295 in August, the ministry said.

Cases involving leaked explicit photographs numbered 86 in July and 180 in August, it added.

That compares with an average of 10 that the ministry receives in other months, it said.

For the first 11 months of last year, there were 558 reports of leaked photographs out of a total of the 1,128 cases reviewed by the ministry.

Students likely took photographs of themselves during the long summer vacation when they found themselves with too much time on their hands, Department of Protective Services Deputy Director Lin Wei-yan (林維言) said.

Many then sent the photographs to others over the Internet, but later regretted it, she said.

The ministry and the National Police Agency have formed a task force to tackle the dissemination of explicit photographs of minors, she said, adding that the widespread use of the Internet among young people has increased the need for vigilance in dealing with the issue.

The task force is to launch an information campaign in schools to teach students about the dangers of sending private photographs online, while working to apprehend those found sharing private photographs of others, she said.

Ministry statistics showed that 50.82 percent of those who have taken private photographs or videos and saved them to their digital devices have had the content leaked to others, with 70 percent of them being leaked by people they know.

Another 70 percent took the photographs under threat or coercion, the data showed.

Criminal Investigation Bureau official Liu Chen-ju (劉貞汝) said the youngest victim he has encountered was an eight-year-old girl who was coerced by an online predator to send nude photographs of herself, who told her he could tell how tall she would grow by looking at her pictures.

Investigators later discovered that the photographs had been spread to other online sites by the recipient.

Liu urged members of the public to contact police immediately if they become aware of anyone sharing explicit photographs of minors on the Internet.

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