KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — All parents in Malaysia need to be vigilant in protecting their children from becoming victims of sexual predators, as children with access to the internet are at risk irrespective of whether their families are rich or poor, the police have said.
Bukit Aman’s Sexual, Women, and Children Crime Investigation Division (D11) principal assistant director Assistant Commissioner Siti Kamsiah Hassan said the police have learnt through the cases they investigated that children who were manipulated or sexually exploited online “were not from any particular background”.
“There are victims from well-to-do families as well as lower-income families,” she was quoted telling the local daily New Straits Times (NST) today.
“The obvious similarities we notice is that the victims all have access to handphones and the internet. They are also mostly introverted and are lonely, with a small number of friends,” she said, adding that a child in such a situation would become more vulnerable to exposure to paedophiles or abusers online.
Siti Kamsiah cited the lack of family values as contributing to why a child might trust someone they met online.
She reportedly said that children were in the past exposed to danger only when they go out of the house, but are now faced with threats as long as they have access to the internet and smartphones, saying that parents have a key role in monitoring their children’s activities.
“Parents need to be creative in their approach towards educating their children on what’s good and what’s not. They should teach them that there are limitations. When a person asks you to send a photo of yourself, what you can reveal and what not to reveal must be taught from young,” she was reported saying by NST.
Siti Kamsiah said Malaysia’s laws against online sexual crimes against children had some of the heaviest penalties in the world, adding for example that anyone who has even one video recording of child pornography can be jailed for five years while anyone found recording pornographic material can be jailed up to 30 years if convicted.
She also reportedly said that enforcement agencies must be prepared for criminals who might use new methods to prey on victims.
Yesterday, NST also reported Siti Kamsiah as saying that online sexual crimes against children are no longer limited to girls like in the past, and that there has been a growing trend of such crimes against young boys. She said those aged below 10 were most vulnerable as they are unable to understand their actions and repercussions.
Siti Kamsiah yesterday said the tactics used by online sexual predators against children include using topics such as K-pop as a common interest point to gain the child’s trust or to make the child feel special or to give them a sense of belonging.
The predators will then request for explicit photographs or engage in video calls where the child might be coaxed to undress.
These video calls will then be recorded to threaten the victim when the latter no longer wants to engage in such acts with the perpetrator.