Hornbill Unleashed

October 24, 2013

Beware of sexual predators in cyber world

Sonia Ramachandran

In March this year, a senior manager of a government-linked company (GLC), known as “Abang Civic”, named after the Honda Civic he drove, was charged with sodomising a 14-year-old boy last year.

News reports stated that two more boys had also claimed to have been sodomised by the same man, bringing the total number of teenagers sexually assaulted by the man to six boys.

“Abang Civic” had been luring the young boys over a social media network and had won their trust by showering them with expensive gifts of cash and electronic gadgets before inviting them to “meetings” at budget hotels.

A Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission study in 2012 found that children below 15 formed 11 per cent of national home Internet users while those aged between 15 and 19 made up 8.6 per cent of the users.

Britain’s leading newspaper The Telegraph recently reported that half of all child sexual exploitation cases took place on social networks.

It said Britain’s National Crime Agency and Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre Command’s 2013 Threat Assessment on Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse report highlighted that 48.5 per cent of online child sexual exploitation cases received were linked to social networking sites.

In the United States last month, months of cyber abuse drove 12-year old Rebecca Sedwick to climb up the ladder of a pair of silos at an abandoned concrete plant and leap to her death.

In August, British teenager Hannah Smith took her own life after enduring months of online bullying.

According to the Guardian, Smith reportedly had been subjected to cruel taunts and insults in the weeks leading up to her death on a question-and-answer social networking site that allows anonymous participation and boasts 60 million users, around 30 million of them minors.

With Internet users getting younger and social networking sites getting more popular, the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) chief executive officer Datuk Paul Selvaraj does not want this to happen to Malaysia’s young.

He told theantdaily that the regulatory framework and laws in the country should incorporate measures to prevent such incidents.

“In the United States, it is a crime to ask children using the Internet for their personal details or information that exposes them to risk.

“A lot of information put up by children on the Internet is used to gather information about them for the purposes of profiling them to market products to them. Sexual predators also use this information to harm children.

“This is not allowed in the United States and Malaysia should follow suit. Using the Internet to profile children and for marketing purposes, such as data mining, should not be allowed,” said Selvaraj.

Data mining is when Internet service providers sell student information collated from online activity to cyber vendors. As a result, youngsters are being targeted to receive specific advertisements when using the Internet for studies.

Selvaraj feels that priority should be given to educating the parents.

“Children do not know how to differentiate between what is right and wrong. Education should be given priority, especially in terms of parents.

“Most children now are more technologically savvy than their parents. Parents should learn how to monitor their children’s activities on the Internet. They should monitor the sites they visit. Parents should also build relationships with their children where they would feel comfortable to approach their parents if they were being bullied.

“Parents should be educated on how to protect their children, how to monitor the sites they visit, and how to advise children on what can and cannot be put up on the Internet,” he said.

In an initiative led by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, a committee has been formed to draft an action plan to protect children from negative elements in the cyber world.

Among the agencies that will be represented in the committee are the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Cyber Security Malaysia, the Social Welfare Department and police.

The plan is expected to be ready by year-end.

Selvaraj also advised parents to make use of technological solutions available to protect their children online.

“Technological solutions such as the ‘Net Nanny’ are available and parents should look into using this to minimise the exposure of children on the Internet.

“We should act and we should do it now,” said Selvaraj.

Good advice, indeed, and one that should be heeded immediately before Malaysia also sees a “Smith” and “Sedwick” among her children.

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2 Comments »

  1. Thre are many ‘Catfish’ in Facebook.
    They are not what they claim to be.

    Comment by Abie Sobri — October 26, 2013 @ 11:37 AM | Reply

  2. This is unfortunate. Could have happened any other way. Not just just the Cyber world.

    But there are more deaths and shootings and drownings and Govt is hopeless and crimes cases are rocketing.

    And worst, guns are lost in the Toilet! 🙄

    Comment by Citizen Watch — October 24, 2013 @ 11:16 AM | Reply


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