KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has the highest number of IP addresses uploading and downloading photographs and visuals of child pornography in South-East Asia, authorities have said.
The number of children falling prey to perpetrators whom they befriended online is also reportedly increasing fast.
Many Malaysian parents let their children use handphones without monitoring them, and more than 60 per cent of children spend time in online chatrooms on the Internet on a daily basis.
Data shows that close to 20,000 IP addresses in Malaysia upload and download photographs and visuals of child pornography and that the country ranks top in South-East Asia in this regard.
Asst Comm Ong Chin Lan of the Royal Malaysia Police's Sexual, Women and Child Investigation Division (D11), in a seminar on "Cyber Protection for Children", revealed that based on data furnished by Dutch police based in Malaysia in 2015, about 17,338 IP addresses involved in child pornography were from Malaysia.
ACP Ong said data showed that prior to 2014, an average of 60 children a year were sexually assaulted by perpetrators whom they had befriended through the Internet.
The figure increased to 184 in 2015 and 183 in 2016. In 2017, the figure was 117, as of May 2017.
It is learnt that about 51 per cent of children aged between 13 and 15 befriended the perpetrators through messaging app WeChat. Other channels included Facebook, WhatsApp and Beetalk.
Based on an investigation by the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) of children between 10 and 17 in 2015, 91.6 per cent owned a handphone before the age of 15 while 88.5 per cent had Facebook or other social media accounts.
It also found that only 35.6 per cent of parents monitor their children's activities.
Another figure that revealed a worrying trend was that 60 per cent of girls and 40 per cent of boys would go on to meet the people they befriended online.
Chen Pei Ling of non-governmental organisation PS The Children revealed during the seminar that out of 10 children surveyed by the group, three admitted to having met "boyfriends" whom they had never met in real life before.
Figures from United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) indicated that more than 60 per cent of children or teenagers spend time in online chatrooms every day. And about three of four children are willing to exchange their information for "goods and services".