PETALING JAYA: Play your part and do your research before choosing a daycare centre for your children to ensure they are in a safe environment.
Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division (D11) assistant director Asst Comm Siti Kamsiah Hassan, in an exclusive interview with The Star, said that D11 was concerned about the abuse cases at daycare centres.
“This is something that I am very concerned about. It is worrying because we see it happening under caretakers, with many who are not even trained in that field of work.
“For one, many of these daycares are not licensed. They also don’t have proper procedures, with some places only having one or two adults caring for as many as 15 children at a time.
“I feel this raises the risk of negligence,” she said.
D11 statistics from 2019 to April 2022 show that police had arrested 2,055 suspects for child abuse.
From that, around a quarter of the suspects, or 504 people, were caretakers and maids.
According to police data, 371 suspects have been identified as caretakers who were introduced to victims by friends or neighbours.
Nine were caretakers found via social media.
The number of child abuse suspects arrested from registered childcare centres, during that period, was 103. A total of 146 child abuse cases occurred in registered and unregisted childcare centres.
ACP Siti said there were enough incidents from such centres to cause worry.
“For the police, we can only highlight after it happens. But this is the trend that I’m noticing, especially lately.
“Many are unlicensed, they operate from their homes. This is also probably due to the effect of Covid-19, and people are finding whatever income they can to survive,” she said, adding that it was easy for someone to open such a business if they wanted to.
Delving into the minds of the offenders, investigations revealed several common threads.
While ACP Siti empathised with the need to put food on the table, going into the childcare business was not for everyone.
She noted that when you view the children under your care as only a means to pay the bills and without any empathy, trouble would follow.
“When there is no patience, no interest, you will see plenty of negligent behaviour. They are only thinking of money for their own survival and when you put that over the safety of children, that’s when problems occur.”
Parents, she emphasised, must play their part and do their due diligence when selecting daycare centres.
“Don’t just take the easy way out and believe what you see on the Internet. Do your homework by looking at the centre or caretaker’s background.
“How are their facilities and do they have CCTVs? Are there enough staff to care for the kids?
“Ask these questions because early surveillance is very important,” she said.
ACP Siti suggested that frequent audits and spot-checks could identify potential problems before it festered into something bigger.
“The main responsibility of the police is to enforce the law, especially with our investigations on abuse reports and in crime prevention via our awareness campaigns. The power to monitor unlicensed childcare centres falls under the jurisdiction of other agencies,” she said.
Making sure the daycare centre that you choose is licensed will ensure that the establishment complied with the set standards.