The New Taipei City Government on Monday called on parents to pay more attention to their children’s Internet use, citing rising cases of online sexual exploitation that have been reported in the past few months, with the youngest victim aged only nine.
During summer vacation, many children spend time playing smartphone games while their parents are at work, and some of them have fallen victim to online sexual exploitation, Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Center Director Hsu Chih-chi (許芝綺) said.
As of the end of May, the city government had received 87 reports of such cases this year, most of which involved “filming a child or young person engaging in sexual intercourse or obscene acts, or producing pictures, photographs, videos or other files that show a child or young person engaging in sexual intercourse or obscene acts,” Hsu said.
The city government received 48 such reports in 2017, 39 in 2018 and 139 last year, she added.
Of all the victims in 2018, teenagers aged 15 to 17 accounted for 74 percent, with children below the age of 12 taking up only two percent, she said.
However, 15-to-17-year-olds took up 46 percent of all victims last year, the highest share, with children younger than 12 soaring to 11 percent, including one case involving a nine-year-old, she added.
The steady rise in cases and the declining age of victims are linked to the popularization of the Internet and smartphones, as many parents give their elementary-school kids a mobile device for communication purposes, but trouble could arise when they make friends with strangers online, she said.
Parents should teach their children the principle of “three do nots and one do” when chatting with people online — do not take pictures or film videos containing private parts, do not keep and do not share such files, but do take screenshots when encountering a suspicious situation, so that they can be used as evidence for criminal investigations, she said.
Crimes recorded in the past few years involved perpetrators tricking children into taking pictures of or filming their private parts by pretending to teach them about the human body or promising them digital game cards in exchange, she said.
Some claimed that they represented South Korean talent agencies and were looking for new stars, she added.
Perpetrators nowadays also tend to use “sextortion” tactics, to extort payment from victims after having acquired intimate images or video footage by, for example, secretly recording them during a nude chat, she said.
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