The facts and figures from UNICEF
It’s not easy to face the ugly facts about child abuse but we have to. If we continue to remain ignorant of the harsh realities, how can we hope to put an end to this bane of society? Despite significant strides made by the government in improving child protection measures , statistics show that reported child abuse cases are actually on the rise in Malaysia.
According to data from the Malaysian Department of Social Welfare, in 2008, child abuse reports rose to 2,780 from 2,279 in 2007 and 1,999 in 2006. This means, an average of 7 children in Malaysia were reported to be victims of child abuse every single day in 2008. Based on the 2008 report, neglect is the most common form of child abuse (952 cases), followed by physical abuse (863 cases), sexual abuse (733 cases), of which 529 (72%) were incest cases. In addition, 58 cases of abandoned babies were also reported that same year. In 2010 physical abuse cases jumped to a record high of 257 – up an alarming 23% from 2009.
As alarming as these figures are, they are sadly just the tip of the iceberg, as most cases of child abuse go unreported.Tragically, most of the child abusers involved in these reported cases are the parents, immediate family members, relatives or foster parents of the victims themselves. Child abuse affects all social, ethnic, religious and economic groups. No group of children is immune, so all children must be protected.
The impact of child abuse is, of course, far greater than its immediate, visible effects. It is associated with short- and long-term consequences that may include brain damage, developmental delays, learning disorders, problems forming relationships, aggressive behaviour, and depression. Additionally, child abuse can lead to death. Unfortunately, we’ve all come across reports on children dying from the injuries sustained from being abused.
Even is a child survives the abuse and neglect, he or she may be at greater risk for problems later in life—such as low academic achievement, drug use, teen pregnancy, and criminal behaviour—that affect not just the child and family, but society as a whole.
Child abuse is an offence in Malaysia, punishable under the Child Act (2001) and the Penal Code (revised 1997). Offenders may be liable to a maximum fine of RM 50,000 or up to 20 years imprisonment, or both depending on the offence. Offenders may also be punished with whipping in addition to the fine and/or imprisonment.
Now that you know the basic facts, are you willing to stand by and allow the numbers of child abuse cases in Malaysia keep rising? Make your stand against it by Getting on Board UNICEF’s campaign to end child abuse at: http://www.uniteagainstabuse.my/register. Also, if you think a child you know is being abused or neglected, don’t hesitate to call the Child Abuse Hotline at 15999.