News of two brothers, aged 8 and 10, who allegedly forced a Year One girl to perform oral sex recently after the duo browsed an adult movie site on their school computer, have shocked the nation.
However, experts tell Audrey Vijaindren and Tan Choe Choe that this is not an isolated incident, as cases of sexual misconduct among minors are on the rise
Incidents of minors raping minors seem to be increasing of late with many going unreported. This is a disturbing trend among today's teenagers, especially since almost 80 per cent of rapes are committed by persons known to the victim, says Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan.
"There are various contributing factors to the rise in cases of consensual and non-consensual acts of sexual nature among minors, such as lack of awareness on sexual development, increased sexual urges, irresponsible sexual behaviour and curiosity." He says besides being plain curious, minors who have substance abuse problems, such as addiction to alcohol and drugs, are also at risk of committing such acts.
"Parents, too, play a huge part. Poor parenting skills which cause lack of moral development in children and an unhappy family environment can be a trigger.
"Peer influence and the role of social media are not to be taken lightly. Besides that, situations which facilitate intimacy and close proximity are often dangerous factors as well."
Underlying mental illnesses, such as conduct disorder, schizophrenia and mania, Dr Tharmaseelan adds, are also causes for worry. Assistant Commissioner Hamidah Yunus, who is the principal assistant director of the Sexual Crimes, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Investigations Division (D11) of the Royal Malaysian Police, told the New Sunday Times that before 2011, there were no reports of sexual misconduct of minors against minors.
In 2011, however, nine cases were reported, followed by seven cases last year and six cases from January till September this year. All these involved children below 13 years old.
While Hamidah points out that there is no actual year on year increase if one were to look strictly at all the reported cases, she says it is important to note that such cases have never been reported before.
And police investigations show that the easy sharing of information, particularly pornographic material, whether via the Internet or devices like mobile phones and tablets, are the catalyst for many of these cases.