TUARAN: Thousands of children were born out of wedlock to underage mothers in Malaysia last year.
According to National Registration Department statistics, 4,992 illegitimate children were born to girls aged 18 and below in 2017.
There were also 120 reported cases of baby dumping that year.
This year until June, 1,664 illegitimate children were born to underage mothers.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said among the factors leading to cases of illegitimate children and baby dumping were incest, child abuse, domestic violence, premarital sex and pornography.
Citing a 2016 research by the National Population and Family Development Board titled “Risk and Protective Factors Affecting Adolescent Sexual Behaviour in Sabah and Sarawak”, she said exposure to pornographic materials increased the risk of teenagers becoming involved in illicit sexual activities.
“A total of 22% of sexually active students said they were influenced by pornography,” she noted.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, said the alarming numbers pointed to the need for families to play a bigger role in preventing unhealthy activities from becoming prevalent among the younger generation.
She also said unregulated use of electronic gadgets such as smartphones could have negative implications on consumers, especially children, who might abuse the devices in the absence of parental supervision.
To nip this problem in the bud, Dr Wan Azizah said her ministry would expand the Smart Cyber Family campaign to raise awareness of the importance of regulating the use of gadgets and surfing the Internet responsibly.
“The responsibility of preventing unhealthy activities should be shouldered together by the Government, community, service providers, parents, teachers and children themselves,” she said at the launch of the Sekeluarga Tolak Pornografi (Families Against Pornography) seminar here yesterday.