Kidnapping cases take place, but it’s a rare incident, criminologist says

04 Oct 2022 08:30am
Photo for illustration purposes only - 123RF
Photo for illustration purposes only - 123RF

SHAH ALAM – Of late, the news of alleged child kidnapping cases circulates on social media every other day which sparks alarm among the public.

Although kidnapping cases in Malaysia had been happening since the 1980s but it was said to be a rare occurrence, as reported by the police,

Criminologist Nadiah Syariani Md Shariff told Sinar Daily that most ‘kidnapping’ cases in Malaysia were runaway cases where the children willingly return home or it might be cases of family abuse that led the children to leave.

She said there had been many myths relating to kidnappings such as the involvement of a white van as a mode of transportation or the kidnapper being a big-sized man and having a fierce appearance.

However, Nadiah said generalising the appearance or the motive of a kidnapper would be too simplistic as the crime was complex criminal behaviour.

“Kidnapping is a complex criminal behaviour to be captured by a single modus operandi or motives, therefore it is always important to strengthen our safety measures because prevention is always better than a reactive approach,” she said.

With the recent rise of alleged kidnapping claims in various states in Malaysia, some schools issued warning letters to the parents for them to be more aware of their child’s safety.

Responding to that, Nadiah felt that it was a good initiative done by the school in wanting the parents to be more vigilant.

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“I don’t think the letter is the cause of panic among the public.

“Rather, it is how the media sensationalised the incident through chain sharing and making it viral on social media, causing the incident to appear more serious than it is,” she said.

Also agreeing with the view, Children’s Commissioner Professor Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal said the issuance of warning letters from schools was a good measure because the authorities must do something to combat this problem.

“The schools that issued the letter to the parents have carried their responsibility because who knows, that school felt they could be a potential target area for the kidnappers.

“I don’t think that caused unnecessary panic,” she said.

Aziah felt these issues should be faced more proactively and suggested the Women Ministry took the initiative and utilise big media platforms to broadcast any possible warnings or make a proper announcement, especially for the parents to heighten awareness and tighten security.

Aziah said it should not matter that the general public might think issuing such warnings would be causing panic as long as the relevant parties have given their utmost best to ensure that reminders had been given to safeguard the safety of the children.

“We must do whatever we can,” she said.

Recently, various reports of kidnapping claims or attempts have been lodged with the police.

In one of its cases in Ipoh, Perak which happened on Sept 23, an eight-year old student from SK Pengkalan caused a stir among the public claiming that he was nearly abducted by a white van.

The claim was made in a video that was posted online and those who shared the video even made claims that the abduction attempt was for organ harvesting purposes.

However, police investigations revealed the student faked the incident as he wanted to know the real situation if a kidnapping case were to happen and admitted he was influenced to do so after watching similar-themed videos on TikTok, Whatsapp and Telegram.

Police also informed that the white van in the video was actually a vehicle used for worker transport.

In a separate report, Bukit Aman corporate communications head Assistant Commissioner A. Skandaguru said the organ harvesting claims were from 2017 that resurfaced.

Due to these incidents, the police strongly urged the public to be more mindful and properly verify facts before sharing them as it may cause unnecessary panic among the public.

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