Thu11232017

LAST_UPDATEThu, 23 Nov 2017 7pm

Despite Increasing Risks Of Kidnappings, Many Parents Still Leave Their Kids Unsupervised

WHEN news about a missing child is reported, it is always heartbreaking to see missing children posters on signboards, trees, petrol stations, and even on ATM machines, as a desperate effort to get the child back.

No one can deny the fact that a missing child is an inexplicable nightmare imprinted on parents' consciousness by widely publicized abductions over the years.

“Once a child is reported missing, the police will begin investigations to ascertain whether the case should be classified under “missing” or “kidnapped”. If no calls of ransom have been placed, my unit, D11, will proceed with the investigation.

"If it is indeed a kidnapping case, it will be passed on to the D9 Special Investigation Division,” said principal assistant director of the Sexual and Child Investigation department ACP Hamidah Yunus as reported in a local news daily in response to a high profile kidnapping in January last year involving an expatriate child in Bangsar.

“Most times, the missing child usually appears the next day, after having spent a night at a friend’s place,” Hamidah explained. She pointed out that often children go missing due to parental disputes, cases involving runaways, lack of adequate care and attention from their parents or guardians, peer pressure, even parental abduction and the child’s search for freedom or independence.

However, when the child goes missing for more sinister reasons, it is heartbreaking to deal with the aftermath.

Over the years, Malaysia has seen several high profile incidents of children being kidnapped and this brings up several fundamental questions: Why is the number of missing children appear to be on the rise in recent years? Are there enough preventive measures and legal provisions over the issue? Are adults doing enough to fight this menace?

When A Child Goes Missing, It’s Already Too Late

In Malaysia, one of the most heinous and well-publicized child abduction cases happened on the morning of 17 September 2007 when an unidentified child’s naked body which was stuffed in a fetal position in a brand-new gym bag was left in front of a shop lot in Petaling Jaya, discovered by the shop owner.

Horrifically, a brinjal and a cucumber was found stuffed inside her genitals and had caused her rectum to rupture and the infection had led her to death. Even more sadly, DNA tests conducted later confirmed the body as the 8-year-old Nurin Jazlin’s who was reported missing after she had gone to a wet market near her house in Wangsa Maju weeks earlier.

However, it is worth noting that Nurul Jazlin is not the first or last name in the list of the missing children as child kidnapping cases is fast becoming the staple of local news as it has been hogging media headlines especially in recent years.

According to police statistics, a total of 3,223 children below 18 went missing between 2008 and April 2012. Of this figure, only about 1,000 cases were solved. According to the Royal Malaysia Police, approximately 4,804 persons were reported missing between January and October in 2012.

Of these, 2,332 have been found, but 2,472 persons are still missing. Of the 2,472 missing persons, 1,177 of them are children, that is, those aged below 18, and 896 of them are girls. This statistic is indeed alarming as it means an average of 16 people are reported missing daily nationwide!

Most recently, just last Monday, Kelantan police detained a man suspected to be involved in the kidnapping of a seven-year-old in Kota Baharu. In the incident, the victim had gone to the Muhammadi Mosque with his father for prayers before he went missing.

However, the boy was found safe and unharmed the next day, begging at a shopping center after the members of the public caught the suspicious 22-year-old and handed him over to the police. The boy was then handed over to his father, who works as a trader at the Siti Khadijah Market, here.

How Vulnerable Are Your Children To Abduction?

Yesterday, Malaysian Digest visited shopping centres, playground and night market in Kuala Lumpur to take a closer look at how vulnerable children were against shady characters with criminal intent– especially those kids left unsupervised by their parents.

A child is seen checking out Lego sets without parental supervision at a toy shop in a shopping center in Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. – Pic by Teh Wei SoonA child is seen checking out Lego sets without parental supervision at a toy shop in a shopping center in Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. – Pic by Teh Wei Soon

 

Children were left unattended while playing hide-and-seek with peers inside a bookstore. – Pic by Teh Wei SoonChildren were left unattended while playing hide-and-seek with peers inside a bookstore. – Pic by Teh Wei Soon

 

Our reader provided us with a photo showing children playing unsupervised in a playground in Bukit Mertajam, Pulau Pinang as their parents were engrossed in conversation with friends. – File picOur reader provided us with a photo showing children playing unsupervised in a playground in Bukit Mertajam, Pulau Pinang as their parents were engrossed in conversation with friends. – File pic

As observed by Malaysian Digest, parents tend to treat child kidnapping lightly despite the ongoing awareness campaign and repeated warnings of child kidnapping case in the country.

During our visit to the supermarket, we were surprised to see many children playing unsupervised. There were several adults in the area but most were absorbed in their mobile devices.

Meanwhile, a walk in the housing area at Seri Kembangan led us to scores of boys and girls playing by the roadside. They were spotted near a car park playing around and ran across the road oblivious to the cars zooming past the area.

Surprisingly, or not, the scenario in newly-opened Atria Shopping Gallery at Damansara Jaya was no different. Despite the huge volume of people due to the soft opening last Thursday, we noticed children running around freely as their parents were busy shopping and were engrossed in looking for bargains.

While we wish our children can play outdoors and mingle freely with their peers without fear as it was possible in more innocent times in the past, progress has also brought with it increased risks as traditional family and community ties that use to keep children safe have been weakened by rapid urbanization and modernization.

Children Left Unsupervised On The Rise As Malaysian Parents Are Too Busy

Kamal Affendi Hashim is a crime analystKamal Affendi Hashim is a crime analystIn an interview with Malaysian Digest, crime analyst Kamal Affendi Hashim (pic) shared his view with us on the matter when asked to comment on the child abduction cases in the country.

“In Malaysia, child kidnapping conflates two different categories. The first one is the abduction by the family of the children itself and the other one is kidnapping by strangers or non-family abduction where children can disappear as a result of parental disputes over custody.

“It is an irrefutable fact that Malaysia has been grappled by many incidents of kidnappings and abductions in recent years. The problem should be urgently addressed since the number of missing children in the country is on the rise,” he noted.

Asked the possible reasons that lead to cases of missing children in the country, Kamal said the lack of adequate care and supervision from their parents or guardians is one of the most significant factors that lead to the child kidnapping.

“Although there may be various interlinked reasons, but the failure to adequately provide a safe cocoon to the children due to the increase in the number of working parents and single heads of households has undoubtedly posted a potential risk to the problem.

“Very often, children are left without adult supervisions especially at home. To make things even worse, some children were left unsupervised playing at the playground, park and the roadsides. This indirectly opens the door to child abduction, including giving child predators’ access to children,” he remarked.

Echoing Kamal Affendi’s view, Kuala Lumpur Social Development, Crime Prevention and Anti-Drugs Voluntary Organisation (PENCEGAH) president Jeevan S Ramamurthy (pic) said child kidnapping is fast becoming a real threat in the country and the problem needs to be urgently addressed before it starts to gain momentum, saying parents should always keep a watchful eye for their children to ensure their safety, when contacted by Malaysian Digest, here. Jeevan S. Ramamurthy is the president of Kuala Lumpur Social Development, Crime Prevention and Anti-Drugs Voluntary Organisation (PENCEGAH)Jeevan S. Ramamurthy is the president of Kuala Lumpur Social Development, Crime Prevention and Anti-Drugs Voluntary Organisation (PENCEGAH)

"Oftentimes, children are taken for ransom and in other cases, their body parts are sold to country like Thailand, China and India whereas girls especially are kidnapped and coerced into sexual slavery, exploitation and illicit begging," he said.

However, he said, at the very same time children may also run away from home due to abuse, peer pressure and neglect to name a few.

"In this case, parents must be held responsible and must face legal action under the Child Act 2001 if their under-aged kids get abducted from home as this is vital to create a more responsible society in the country as negligence of parents was the main reason for the increase in the number of cases of missing children.

“Since the Act has been made available in Malaysia, hence, legal actions can be taken against the parents. However, the existing law has yet to be fully enforced,” he added.

 “A Moment Of Neglect, A Lifetime Of Regret”

Kamal had shared his recommendations on preventive measures. "When it comes to raising awareness on child kidnapping, we need to focus on two important elements which is prevention and intervention. Prevention involves the effort to raising awareness among the general public as well as [handling] the logistical issues.

“Intervention refers to the necessary action taken by the authorities concerned to prevent child abduction such as encouraging the members of the public to lodge a report whenever their family members become the victim.

"Do make a police report if you find anything suspicious or peculiar as this would certainly help the police to carry out investigation, thereby reducing the occurrence of child kidnapping."

"Parents must always teach your children how to react when they are approach by a stranger. Teach them how to avoid a potential captor and not to divulge any information to strangers," he concluded.

Although not every child abduction is preventable, steps can be taken to help reduce the possibility.

The parenting site, theasianparent.com advocates the following simple five rules to help keep our children safe

1. Always know where they are - you should insist that they keep you updated on their whereabouts

2. Be sure that they’re never alone - ensure your child is always with someone trust-worthy at all times

3. Stranger danger - teach your kids never to interact with a stranger and if in doubt, they should follow these three steps: Run, Yell, and Tell.

4. Know the enemy - keep an eye out for people who insist in being in the company of children. Kidnappers and child molesters know where best to find their victims, some of them could even be an acquaintance.

5. Develop a closer relationship - know your child’s moods, reaction and character, if there’s a drastic difference, something could be wrong.

6. Create rules - teach your child about emergency contact numbers, dangers of kidnapping, going to people's houses and letting strangers in the home when alone

Lastly, this 2-minute video below has a message directed to all Malaysians, parents in particular. This award-winning video was produced by ad agency TBWA Kuala Lumpur on behalf of Kidproof SEA. See what happens when a lone stranger, armed with lollipops, was given the task to look for unattended children in a shopping mall.

Below are some useful contact details to keep in mind.

15999 For the NUR ALERT (Child Abduction Alert System) or CHILDLINE – A Helpline Dedicated to Children       

Call 15999 or send them an email on a problem you have at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Alternatively, you can email them a question at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In case of emergency, you can contact the police at 03-2031 9999 / 03-2266 3333 or alternatively dial 999. PDRM Headquarters No – 03-2266 2222.

The NGO Protect & Save The Children Association located in Petaling Jaya can also be reached at (603) 7957 4344 / 7956 4355 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


-- mD