An average of six children and teenagers in the country had fallen victim to sexual crimes in the last three years, shocking police statistics have shown.

Between 2018 and 2020, a total of 6,897 sexual crime cases involving underaged victims were registered, reported Malay tabloid daily Harian Metro, citing data from Bukit Aman's Sexual, Women and Child Investigation Division (D11).

According to the division's principal assistant director ACP Siti Kamsiah Hassan, the numbers have also steadly increased throughout the years, with 2,010 cases reported in 2018, followed by 2,297 and 2,590 cases in 2019, and 2020, respectively.

Common social media applications, such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, and TikTok, were found to have played a part in some of the cases, said the report.

The majority of crimes were rape, followed by incest, gang rape, unnatural sex, child pornography, child grooming and molest.

According to Siti Kamsiah, the victims included little boys and male teenagers (7,042 out of the total number of cases).

A total of 8,113 suspects, including 12 women, were hauled up in the three years, she noted.

Abuse of technology

It is a given that children now have more access to gadgets, such as internet-equipped computer tablets and mobile phones, to facilitate online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

However, these facility had been abused by certain parties to commit the vile sexual crimes, Siti Kamsiah said.

"For example, the majority of rape cases we deal with involve children or teenagers who befriend the suspect on social media, and end up exposing their images without knowing the dangers behind the act.

"We once had a case where a seven-year-old girl shared her nude picture with someone she had just befriended over the internet. Luckily, the act was noticed by her parents, who then lodged a police report, she added.

Parents should be more wary of what they allow their children to post, or do on the social media. At the same time, they themselves should ensure they don't overshare images and details of their families, which could be abused by sexual predators out there, the top cop urged.

These are scary numbers indeed. It goes without saying that technology is a double-edged sword. It does what it is meant to do, if done the right way, but it has the potential to wound the user if it used recklessly.

With this in mind, it is best for parents to always monitor what their children are up to online, to ensure they don't become part of PDRM statistics.

Another option would be to limit your child's use of technology/gagdets. You may just be subjected to a tantrum by your child, but hey, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Source: Harian Metro
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