The staggering rise in the number of suspects aged 18 and below involved in sexual offences is disturbing, more so, when the perpetrators are reported to have been victims before. When a victim-turns-aggressor, this scenario suggests that normalisation of sexual abuse has befallen. This results with victims presuming and given the erroneous impression that sex crimes are acceptable, a common practice, condonable when they are definitely not.

It is important that parents or guardians of minors inculcate in them the difference between acceptable and non-acceptable bodily touches by anyone be that person an immediate relative or friend. Children need to be taught to distinguish between terms and touches of endearment and affection (embrace), and manipulative, intimate touches at the nether places or other areas and other forms of uncomfortable hugs.

While safeguarding children against underage sexual offences, parents, guardians or caregivers also need to instil in minors that such deeds cannot be committed against other young persons of the same age group and even on infants and adults.

As the police have highlighted that the misuse of social media becomes a gateway for abused kids to turn perpetrator, parents and guardians need to switch on or install safeguards on their electronic devises. While parents and guardians may not always have the spare time to monitor the websites their offsprings or wards are surfing owing to work pressures and commitments, it is still a necessity to find the time and be aware and alert when children surf age-inappropriate contents.

Similarly, if any child or adolescent relates about uncertainties or trauma of incestuous relationships, the adult needs to give that minor the confidence and trust to air openly whatever has occurred, without judgement or scolding or other form of punitive responses. Gone are the days when kids or even adults are told to zip their lips when any type of sexual abuse or exploitation has happened to salvage their dignity and reputation, whilst the predator roams unfettered to stalk another prey.

Meanwhile, the authorities and the government could establish go-to counselling centers in more central locations and even the outskirts to enable counselling and recovery, a safe avenue that is easily accessible for both adult carers and child victims.

Wanita MCA also urges the Child Development Department (JPKK) which was established by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry on 1 September 2023 and tasked with child development and protection issues in general, to pay particular attention to the astounding growth of underaged persons who commit sexual abuse against other minors. As social media postings can become viral easily while sexual offences against children is a very worrisome issue in society, the JPKK needs formulate strategic plans and execute solutions to tackle child sex fiends.

Society needs to be mindful that the actual figures are actually higher compared to the statistics cited in The Star report (8 April 2024) are based on cases reported by the Bukit Aman CID Sexual, Women and Children Crime investigation Division. We would not be in the know of the precise number of sexual abuses which go unreported. Hence, preventing normalisation of child abuse in any form is a pressing need and not a choice.

Wong You Fong
Wanita MCA National Chairman

8 April 2024

-MCA Comm-