Protecting children is a shared responsibility

  • Focus
  • Sunday, 18 Oct 2020

EVERYONE is responsible when it comes to protecting children and eliminating child sexual abuse content, sometimes also known as “child pornography”.

“Make a report whenever you encounter such content. Guardians, schools, and the community must be vigilant. Law enforcement, legislation and reporting processes and systems should also be efficient and enforced, ” says Protect and Save the Children (PS The Children), a rights-based NGO that works with children who are sexually abused and exploited. PS the Children is the Secretariat of the Child Rights Coalition Malaysia which is currently working on the Status Report of Child Rights Malaysia 2019.

Presently, there still are many challenges when it comes to eliminating child sexual abuse content. On one hand, there is little filtration or restriction of content posted online, and low enforcement to detect and apprehend suspects, says PS the Children manager Angeline Yap.

“On the consumer side, there is a lack of awareness and consciousness of the consequences of their actions. There is also a need to give attention to the moral and mental health of a person who chooses to delve in child sexual abuse material, ” says Yap.

For many child victims, there is a lack of awareness of the dangers of sexual exploitation or prevention knowledge. Building strong and healthy parenting and family relationships is a necessary prevention tool in this instance.

According to Yap, more than 90% of abusers are people children know and trust.

“Often, victims are abused by someone they trust. Offenders often use grooming tactics to normalise sexual contact and encourage secrecy. At times, content is also produced without the knowledge of the child at all, ” she explains.

“To combat this issue, there must be consistent and persistent enforcement of existing legislation against child pornography. Heavy punishment should be meted out if someone is found guilty, ” she adds.

Public awareness must not be forgotten. There must be education on what is the definition of a child, and our laws and regulations relating to children.

“We should educate children on empowering tools to keep themselves safe, in addition to parenting tools for parents to improve and nurture positive and healthy relationships with their children, ” says Yap.

The most important step we must take is the difficult task of completely eradicating the demand for child sexual abuse material.

Yap puts it succinctly: “No demand, no supply.”

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