GEORGE TOWN: There seems to be an upward trend in Internet-related rape cases in the age of advanced technology, says Penang police chief Comm Datuk Wira Chuah Ghee Lye.
He revealed that 183 cases were reported nationwide last year, compared with only 26 in 2010. Of the 183, five were reported in Penang.
“The initial contact would be through social media before the children, or even adults, became rape victims.
“The perpetrators first gain the trust of the victims through conversations. They then date the victims before committing rape.
“We need to raise public awareness on the dangers lurking in cyberspace,” Comm Chuah said after launching a child awareness campaign themed “Cyber Smart, Be Safe!” at Han Chiang High School yesterday.
More than 500 students from seven secondary schools attended the campaign organised by the Penang police and the Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF).
Comm Chuah said people of all ages, whether from rural or urban areas, were exposed to such a risk as long as there was broadband penetration.
Citing Richard Huckle, the convicted serial paedophile who preyed on children in poor communities, he said the perpetrators would always disguise themselves as a do-gooder or even a Good Samaritan.
“Those from the rural areas who were less exposed socially would be more vulnerable to the sweet talk and promises,” he said.
MCPF chairman (crime prevention against women and children) Datuk Nik Gee Siew Yee said with technological advancement, Gen Z, who were the first real demographic group of digital natives, were easily exposed to child sexual grooming via cyberspace.
“Many children have smartphones to go into their Facebook, WhatsApp and Wechat accounts.
“The perpetrators are using these platforms to get close to these children,” she said.
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