KUALA LUMPUR - With high-speed Internet and fast computers, you may think that your child is safe surfing while you are away from home.
Well, you may have to reconsider that. Police are tracking increasing numbers of what they term as "cyber sexual grooming" crimes with girls and young women being targeted.
What started out as police surveillance against social media abuse led them to uncover this cyber sexual threat in which the innocent are lured into undressing, exposing their private parts and performing sexual acts such as masturbating without realising they are being recorded.
The exploitation goes on - if the victim refuses to oblige with more of the lurid requests, the person will threaten to upload the recording of the indecent act.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said that foreigners from as far as the United States and Britain were targeting the young here, describing it as an "extension of paedophilia".
He advised girls who frequently chatted on Facebook and other social media sites to be wary against such cyber threats.
At least one American cyber groomer has been arrested and charged in court after being found in possession of hundreds of child pornographic materials. Among his victims was a Malaysian.
To counter the threat, police have set up a special Child Cyber Sexual Investigation unit to track down those involved.
"We know what's going on and are taking the necessary steps to contain it. We managed to detect several cases over the past few months, but the crime keeps escalating.
"These criminals are taking to the Internet to get our young to fall prey to them,'' Khalid told reporters after closing a course for senior women police officers at the Police Academy in Cheras yesterday.
The IGP likened the modus operandi to that used by the Islamic State (IS) to recruit youths via the social media.
"They will get close to the young and say sweet things to influence them,'' he said, adding that the task force had traced several victims of this cyber crime.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, who was also present at the event, said with the passing of the Child (Amendment) Bill 2015 on May 4, a registry would be set up to keep track of convicted child abusers including paedophiles.
The registry is the first of its kind in Malaysia and will contain the particulars of child abusers to be accessed by the public.
"These days, there are many unthinkable ways to harm children online. The Malaysian Council For Child Welfare provides us with feedback from abused children.
"Every time there is a meeting, we try to find out more information about these children. The children know better of their own world. We want to prevent the problem from getting to self-harm and suicide," she told reporters.
Rohani said the police played an important part in enforcing the ministry's efforts to provide protection to children online.
"At times, parents feel safer with their children staying home and surfing the Internet. But this may not be the case,'' she added.