The police have received 1,562 reports on sexual-related cases involving minors on social media platforms over the last five years.

According to Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division (D11) assistant director ACP Siti Kamsiah Hassan, the number of cases last year also jumped about 22 percent to 352, from 289 cases reported in 2017.

"They (girls) need to be alert for abnormal signs during a conversation. For example, if a guy asks for your naked picture or to show him your body during a video call, that is abnormal, so you should distance yourself right away to avoid untoward incidents," she was quoted telling The Star.

Calling the figures alarming, Siti Kamsiah said the police was actively engaging children to educate them via outreach programmes at schools.

According to her, in most cases, the young victims become acquainted with sexual predators through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, before their conversations moved on to more private channels such as WeChat or WhatsApp.

The culprits usually sweet-talked the children into sharing their private photos or videos, before using the materials to coerce the victims into giving them what they wanted, including sex, she warned.

The portal also spoke to one such victim in her 20s, who only wanted to be identified as Lily.

She was just 15 when she shared a topless photo of her with her then 17-year-old boyfriend, after he continuously pestered her after just four months of dating, not knowing that he would use it against her.

The boy ended up asking for more photos of her, failing which he threatened to expose her online. He eventually moved on to blackmailing her to have sex with him.

Lily lodged a police report, and the boy had action taken against them.

Scary numbers indeed. Perhaps it is best for adults to be fully aware of what their children, especially teenagers, are up to online - particularly on social media platforms, to ensure they do not become a statistic.

Source: The Star
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