Cybercrime involving minors has reached worrying dimensions in Cyprus with an increasing number of cases reported involving child pornography, according to police data.
Head of the Cybercrime unit Andreas Anastasiades, said reports examined by the unit in relation to child pornography are in two categories:
"The first category concerns the possession of child pornographic material and the second, invitation to child pornography, where a minor from Cyprus is asked to take naked pictures and other similar acts," Anastasiades said.
According to Cybercrime Office statistics; in 2011 there were 37 cases of child pornography and 1 case where a child was invited to pornography, in 2012 there were 44 cases of child pornography, in 2013, 17 cases and six cases of invitation to child pornography and in 2014, to date, 7 cases of child pornography and 5 cases concerning invitation to child pornography.
"The number of invitations to child pornography has been increasing since 2013 and the Office is taking measures to combat and to prevent the phenomenon."
Anastasiades said there is an increasing trend of "reports concerning abuse through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Ask. FM and others".
He reassured that the situation is being controlled by members of the office who are all trained in Information Technology systems to tackle the phenomenon.
DISY MP and child psychologist Stella Kyriakidou said that there are many dangers for children who use the web and that statistics show that one in five children will be abused.
Kyriakidou said that according to Safer Social Networking principles for the EU, there are a number of preventive measures to be taken.
"If parents realise that their child is on Facebook it's best that they explain to their kids that friends of friends are not necessarily their friends and to make them realise that they should not reply to strangers.
"They should also convince them to speak up if they are being abused."
She also noted that children younger than 12 should strictly not be allowed to use the internet as at that age, it is very easy for them to fall victims of abuse.
Kyriakidou also referred to an EU study in 2012 that showed that one in two kids aged between 14 and 16 have a Facebook account and are communicating with strangers.
She said offenders often approach kids by creating fake profiles pretending to be their relatives, family friends or acquaintances.
They then try to gain their trust by asking personal questions about their life.
Then they ask for personal naked photos and blackmail them.
This situation can last even up to two years.
"Studies show that 11% of kids said that they have been invited to participate in "sexting", while 2% admitted that they sent messages with sexual content to strangers."