Special-needs children more vulnerable to crimes, says criminologist

08 Dec 2023 04:20pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - 123RF
Image for illustrative purposes only. - 123RF

SHAH ALAM – A forensic criminologist has highlighted that when it comes to murdering innocent children, victims are often targeted due to their vulnerabilities.

Nadiah Syariani Md Shariff explains that vulnerability is associated with factors such as the victim's lack of physical strength, size, ease of access, and mobility.

“In certain conditions, some children are even more vulnerable than others, such as in this case, where the victim is a special-needs child with speech difficulties.

"This makes the victim an ideal target for a motivated offender to strike when the opportunity is present, especially when the child is alone or unguarded,” Nadiah told Sinar Daily recently.

She also noted that parents, relatives, caregivers, and other individuals entrusted with the care of children are typically involved in slayings related to children.

These incidents often occur in cases of child abuse and neglect that lead to fatal outcomes.

However, Nadiah pointed out that there are instances where friends or strangers commit such crimes, with motives ranging from instrumental to personal, including domination or financial gain.

Nadiah provided examples of interpersonal crimes to illustrate the potential harm to children, citing the unsolved murders of Nurin Jazlin and Siti Masitah.

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Nurin was abducted just outside the family’s rented apartment in Wangsa Maju in August 2007. Her remains were found 28 days later stuffed inside a gym bag in front of a shop in Petaling Jaya, more than 20km away. She had been raped and killed.

The culprits have not been found.

Meanwhile, 11- year-old Siti Masitah’s body was found on Feb 9 following a police report by her family that she was missing after having gone to a shop on Jan 30.

Nadiah stressed that while kidnapping is a typical tactic, the outcomes can vary depending on the perpetrator's motive.

“If the motive is financial, the typical sequence involves threats and ransom demands.

"Usually, after the ransom is received, the child will be returned unharmed,” Nadiah added.

While it takes strong emotions to harm someone entirely innocent, like an innocent child, Nadiah said personal motivations such as retaliation or rage cannot be ruled out in some cases.

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