Three elements of kidnapping: Motivated suspect, suitable target, absence of guardian

04 Oct 2022 08:45am
Photo for illustration purposes only - Source: 123RF
Photo for illustration purposes only - Source: 123RF

SHAH ALAM – In light of the recent alleged kidnapping cases that have been happening in a few areas in Malaysia, a criminologist highlights that it is important to first look into the context of kidnapping.

Nadiah Syariani Md Shariff said the usual kidnapping case has three elements which were a motivated offender, suitable target and the absence of a capable guardian.

“When these three elements are present, the opportunity for kidnapping is created for it to happen,” she told Sinar Daily.

However, she also said even with the presence of a guardian, opportunities for kidnapping were not entirely refuted which made crime prevention extremely important.

She said opportunities for kidnapping to happen could be because a child was left unsupervised by an adult.

Other than that, not functional adults who were distracted or unaware of the surrounding environment could also be the cause of child kidnapping.

“Therefore, heightening security with a focus on target hardening specifically on the suitable target and having a capable guardian is effective to reduce the opportunity for kidnapping,” she said.

She added that guardians should step up to ensure their child’s safety is safeguarded at all times.

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Some of the ways to reduce the risk of children being targeted were to first teach them about what to do if they were approached by strangers and how to get help, she said.

Nadiah also said that having a close relationship with teachers at school was an effective method because the child has someone other than their parents to inform in case something were to happen at school.

She said another important measure was to teach the children the dangers of following strangers but not to the extent of scaring them.

“Teach them about the danger of following strangers but not scaring them because this may cause them to not inform the adults if an attempt of kidnapping occurred,” she said.

She was of the opinion that capable guardians involve parents, teachers and schools and it should be their responsibility to build a trusting and good relationship with the children so they feel safe to communicate about any events happening.

For parents, she recommended they practise a positive parenting style as it nurtures the children to be independent and trusting when facing danger.

“Other than that, parents also need to know their children’s whereabouts and circle of friends because sometimes, the kidnapping case turned out to be a runaway case where the child returns willingly or found at a friend’s house,” she said.

For the school, she advised the installation of CCTV around school compounds so that potential kidnappers could be easily identified.

This should also be coupled with stationing security guards and ensuring children should only leave the school compound upon the arrival of their parents.

Meanwhile, Children’s Commissioner Prof Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal also agreed with Nadiah’s view and said children under 18 should not be left unsupervised without any adult even when at home, which she said was an offence under the Child Act 2001.

The law, she said, was very clear and offenders could be entitled to an imprisonment sentence.

“If a child is not allowed to be left unsupervised in their own home, what more if they are outside like in parks or pasar malam?” she said.

She added if children have their phones, the parents should monitor their child’s activity so they would not interact with any child predators online.

Aziah was stern for all the parents to ensure their child’s online communication was protected because there were possible risks for them to be influenced by online predators to the extent they would flee from their homes.

“All of that must be ensured, we cannot just let children be free without any supervision,” she said.

On the recent alleged kidnapping cases happening in Malaysia, she hoped that the government would not delay and investigate properly into it.

“If it’s not true, the people would not be making police reports,” she said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary said the centralisation of the digital world today actually plays a role in kidnapping crimes being rampant.

He was of the opinion that parents should not simply post photos of their children on social media because it could be an opportunity for kidnappers to know the personal information and whereabouts of the child.

“Maybe for us, it’s just a picture of a child smiling at the phone camera in the school compound but such information can open up space and opportunity for kidnappers to know the location of a child’s school, the school’s time-out session and even how they get home,” he said on a Facebook post.

He reminded that children were extremely vulnerable, especially without their parents when they returned from school or during playtime in the neighbourhood parks.

Thus, he urged parents to contain their desire to share photos of their children with the public.

“Parents need to realise that not everything can be shared with the world.

“This can make the children be exposed to unwanted cases,” he said.

In the past months, the public was troubled by various reports of kidnappings that allegedly took place especially around school areas.

Police had also refuted many claims of the alleged kidnapping cases since several news were circulated on social media and messaging platforms.

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