Access to online porn linked to attack on Year One student

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - Netizens and NGOs are united in their concern over the inappropriate content children can access of the web.

Their concern is heightened after the recent incident in which brothers, one in Year Four and the other in Year Two, allegedly forced a Year One girl to perform oral sex on them.

The brothers apparently watched an adult movie at their school's computer lab and later invited the girl to their house in Tanjung Minyak Utama to re-enact what they had seen.

P Nagasayee Malathy, Executive Director of Protect and Save The Children (P.S. The Children) says that although there has been no research done on children accessing inappropriate content online, studies show that young children are a prominent presence on the Internet.

A study by Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission in 2012 shows that children below 15 years contribute to 11 per cent of the national home internet users and children aged 15-19 years contribute to about 8.6 per cent of internet users.

"This shows that the children have high access to internet and it is on the rise," said Malathy.

"Access to obscene materials to a child in any form (online or offline) would affect the child in terms of psycho social aspects," she said.

"This may also lead to the child sexually abusing other children because of the anxiety or mixed feeling which may lead to a confused state of mind," she adds.

Malathy says that this incident will surely affect the young girl and the two boys who were involved in a "psychological, social and overall development".

"While the abused child may have feelings such as confusion, guilt and fear; the children who were involved in the incident may also feel guilt, fear and cluelessness," she said.

"P.S. The Children strongly recommends that the survivor as well as the boys who are alleged to have committed the act should undergo healing process through appropriate therapy such as Play Therapy," said Malathy.

"The healing process would enable survivor to come out of the trauma and live a positive life while it would break the abuse cycle with the boys," she said.

Chairman of Suriana Welfare Society for Children James Nayagam says that many more cases like this that often go unreported.

"It shows that the schools are weak in their teaching of respect as a form of human rights for girls," said Nayagam, adding that another important topic that should be taught is preventive sex education.

"In my 30 years of working with school kids, I have come across so many cases of unwanted pregnancies resulting in illegal abortions," said Nayagam.

"In fact research shows that abortions in Malaysia amongst teenagers can reach up to 300 a day," he adds.

But Nayagam says that every attempt to teach preventive sex education in schools has been put off.

Cheok Hoong Poh, General Manager of Shelter Home for Children, believes that the potential of children coming across inappropriate material is high due to the easy access to the Internet.

"Influence of friends is another reason for our children going to inappropriate websites," he said.

Cheok cites "lack of education, lack of supervision and monitoring" as the cause of sexual abuse cases among plaintiffs this young.

He believes that parents should have a heart-to-heart talk with their children as well as educate them on the consequences and penalties that will arise for sexual abusers.

Lily (not her real name) who is a parent and lecturer, says that parents and teachers should be more vigilant in knowing what their children are up to on the Internet.

"Setting up proper "parental controls" in the home and schools are important, as are moral boundaries (knowing the difference between right and wrong)," she said.

"The Internet is an indispensable part of our society so it is not possible or feasible to stop children from accessing it. Therefore, careful supervision and controls must be kept up-to-date as youths are becoming more tech-savvy," she added.

However, Lily says that the Internet is not the only source of potential inappropriate material; television and music are also responsible for the "sexualization" of youths.

"Children are impressionable and that's where good parenting needs to come into play. Parents need to help children distinguish what is right and wrong and avoid using the computer or television as an "electronic nanny" that can influence the youths if left unsupervised," said Lily.

Melissa (not a real name), a teacher, expressed her surprise that the two brothers were able to access such material on their school's computer.

"As far as I know, the website blocking system is quite stringent at schools," said Melissa.

"Kids should not be exposed to such matters at such a young age and it is very sad that this is what they are involved in rather than reading books or playing games outdoors with their friends," she said.

Melissa suggests that parents and teachers work together by engaging kids in activities that do not involve the computer.

"Nowadays students spend far too much time on the computer and not outside living and enjoying life," said Melissa.

She recommends encouraging children to join reading or dancing clubs at school or join sporting activities like badminton or football.

Melissa says that parents and teachers should also have open and age appropriate discussions with children about sexual activities.

She says that "Children are naturally curious creatures, and if they are not told, then they will use whatever means they have to find out. Isn't it better that we teach it to them properly rather than them having 'adult websites' as their only point of reference?"

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