Risk of exposure to potential sex crime is 1 in 5 for minors in Seoul

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Risk of exposure to potential sex crime is 1 in 5 for minors in Seoul

One out of five minors in Seoul have been at risk of falling victim to an online sex crime, according to the city government’s latest survey.
A 15-year-old female, requesting anonymity, once received a message from a stranger through her social media asking for her KakaoTalk user contact, saying he wanted to send her a mobile gift card. When she gave him her ID, she was continuously blackmailed with her intimate photographs and threatened using personal information he obtained from her social media — a process known as online grooming.
She's not alone. According to a survey jointly conducted by Seoul City and Seoul Foundation of Women and Family on 4,012 students between the ages of 12 to 19, 21.3 percent, or 856 respondents, had been at direct risk of falling victim to a sex crime.
Of these, 56.4 percent answered they were sent sexual messages or photos, while 27.2 percent said they continuously received messages asking to meet in person. Others responded that their own sexual images were spread or threatened to be spread (4.8 percent), and some were offered money for sexual photos or sexual intercourse (4.3 percent).
Many of the respondents said they dealt the problem on their own because they didn’t know what to do.
Those saying they didn’t take any action were the most common, at 27.5 percent. As for the reason, most respondents said they lacked the information or resources to deal with such risks, at 78.5 percent, while others said they had little trust that reporting would actually lead to meaningful solutions.
To strengthen support for juvenile victims, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said that next year it plans to establish and operate an integrated support organization for victims and those at risk of digital sex crimes by cooperating with the Seoul Metropolitan Police and Korea Communications Standards Commission.
In addition to providing expert counseling, the institution will for the first time help delete non-consensual intimate images and videos on the internet by hiring IT experts and developing relevant technology.
“The younger generation is familiar with digital culture, and due to longer periods at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, they are exposed to risks of digital crimes without protection,” said Kim Sun-soon, director of the Women and Family Policy Affairs Office at the city government. “By installing an integrated support organization for victims of digital sex crimes, […] we will be equipped with a system that can help prevent sex crimes and delete online content.”

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun1@joongang.co.kr]
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