Published: 15th November 2021
Karnataka sees a startling 1,340 per cent increase in the number of cybercrimes targetting children. This is why
Though experts partially attribute the rise to increased exposure to the internet among children due to online classes, there are concerns that cases will further increase in the coming years
A whopping 1,340 per cent — that's the percentage of increase in the cybercrimes directed at children in the year 2020 when compared to the previous year in Karnataka. The state has also been also ranked third in the country among those states that have reported the highest cybercrimes in absolute numbers.
As per data by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 10 cybercrimes against children were reported in 2019 and in 2020, that number went up to 144 in Karnataka which means an alarming rise of 1,340 per cent. While most cases are related to publishing or transmitting material depicting children in sexually explicit acts, out of the 144 of the cases reported, 122 are related to cyber pornography involving children.
The NCRB data reveals that Karnataka is only next to Maharashtra (207) and Uttar Pradesh (197) and is followed by Kerala (126), and Odisha (71), which make up the top five states with the highest number of cybercrimes targeting children. A point to note is that Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have recorded an increase far lesser than that of Karnataka at 195.71 per cent and 101.02 per cent, respectively. Experts said this shocking rise in cases is mainly because the pandemic-induced lockdowns and restrictions forced people to remain indoors, providing them more opportunities to take to criminal activities in the cyber domain.
Though experts partially attribute the rise to increased exposure to the internet among children due to online classes, there are concerns that cases will further increase in the coming years as children are inevitably provided with gadgets such as mobile phones or tablets for their education.
Narasimha G Rao, Director, Child Rights Trust, said that most of the cybercrimes targeting children go unreported as parents fear social stigma. “I have come across scores of cases where parents have forced their children to remove social media applications due to unpleasant experiences. It is alarming that even children as young as eight years old are becoming victims of cybercrimes. Some parents are also the reason for this, as they themselves post their children’s pictures on social media just to garner attention,” he said.
Rao said parents, teachers, and the government must make a collaborative effort to save children from cybercrimes. “Children should be taught at schools the dos and don'ts while using their gadgets. They should be taught the basics of cyber safety such as not responding to texts or photos sent by unknown persons,” he advised.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sandeep Patil said people, especially children, should be cautious about what they share on social media. “Dealing with the digital world comes with its own drawbacks. Children should refrain from posting personal details such as their phone numbers and residential addresses. They become vulnerable if they respond to strangers on social media or messaging applications.”