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Nor Nazlia Binti Baharudin

31 May 2012 | last updated at 11:18PM

CHILD ABUSE: Media must respect rights of victims

ON May 25, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Heng Seai Kie came to my department to see a 2-year-old victim of abuse. She was accompanied by the Perak Welfare Department director and one of my consultants.
During the visit, it was made very clear to members of the media present that they were not to take any pictures of the child. However, they disregarded the directives. Under the Child Act 2001 (Act 611), restrictions on media reporting and publication are clearly outlined in Clause 15. The following are vital provisions under this clause. Firstly, that "...any mass media report... shall not reveal the name, address or educational institution, or include any particulars calculated to lead to the identification of any child so concerned..." Second, "a picture of any child concerned... shall not be published in any newspaper or magazine or transmitted through any electronic medium." Third, "for the purposes of this section, 'transmit' includes broadcast by radio or television." Fourth, the clause also outlines the suppression of the identity of the parents/guardians and abuser. And lastly, "any person who contravenes the subsection or commits an offence, shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding RM10,000 or to imprison-ment for a term not exceeding five years or both." The law has been written to protect children.

Having worked with abused children for three decades, I can assure you that they are extremely vulnerable and hurt. Exposing them to the glare of the media is a further violation of the already abused child. I recognise that media outlets are in competition for news. I value their contribution to provide us with insight into situations, but there must be limits. Many media agencies, both print and online, reported the case of this child. Some splashed images of the child on the front page (eyes were blanked out). Some even showed the bite marks. The images of the child are also on online portals. This is not the first time the media has ignored this law and, more importantly, the rights of vulnerable and abused children. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has been around for more than 20 years. The media is fully aware of these rights but have yet to embody them firmly in their principles of reporting. I appeal to the media to be more sensitive to the needs of these children. While we want child abuse to stop, and the media plays a vital role in doing this, we must not inadvertently be party to deepening this abuse. Datuk Dr Amar Singh, head of Paediatric Department, Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital, Ipoh, Perak

Read more: CHILD ABUSE: Media must respect rights of victims - Letters to the Editor - New Straits Times

19 July 2012 | last updated at 08:47AM

'Many child abuse cases go unreported'

AWARENESS: Children are suffering in silence as society turns a blind eye, says city police chief
KUALA LUMPUR: MANY cases of child abuse go unreported due to apathy by parents and society in general, leaving the victims suffering in silence. City chief police officer Datuk Mohmad Salleh said many cases were not brought to the attention of the authorities also because of the shame and embarrassment which the victims and their families were likely to endure. "This is not right. Children, too, have rights. They have the right to see that justice is done, the right to heal from their trauma through professional help," Mohmad said. He was speaking to more than 500 primary school and kindergarten teachers, as well as representatives from non-governmental organisations, orphanages, hospitals and counsellors at the Senior Police Officers College in Cheras here. The event was a seminar on creating awareness on child sexual abuse cases. Between 2009 and 2011, 114 child sexual abuse reports were lodged with the police here. In the first six months of this year, police received 10 reports. "I am quite sure that there are many more cases which have gone unreported due to shame and embarrassment or simply because of apathy and indifference. "Based on experience, the main reason for such cases going unreported is societal indifference. In modern society, everyone minds their own business and does not care about issues outside their homes." Mohmad pointed out that if adults noticed something was amiss or wrong with the child, they were duty-bound to inform the authorities instead of allowing the victim to suffer in silence.

"If a child looks gloomy, glum, scared, pressured or spends time alone instead of playing with his peers, these are all tell-tale signs and symptoms that they are victims of abuse," Mohmad said. "In this kind of situations, do not dismiss the issue or take it lightly because indirectly, we are denying the child his or her rights." He said studies have shown that if authorities took the trouble to help the victims, the suspects are usually caught and in most cases taken out of society." "The public must be educated on how to prevent cases of sexual abuse against children as they are helpless and unable to defend themselves," Mohmad said. The day-long seminar, organised by the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation, also saw families of child abuse victims coming out in the open to share their experiences and relate how they overcame the social stigma.

Read more: 'Many child abuse cases go unreported' - General - New Straits Times