By Maria Zain
The story of Nurin Jazlin Jazimin shed new light on the dangers faced by children in their every day lives. The streets are no longer safe for an eight year old to take a 100 metre walk from her home to the neighbouring pasar at night, let alone in broad daylight.
Many were aghast when DNA results proved that the little girl found in a sports bag 20 days later after her disappearance was indeed Nurin. Sympathy turned from the child to her parents who had, in the days before, denied her identity as the deceased. It is quite understandable that the trauma of losing a child would transform into denial after learning of the sequence of sordid events that led to her death.
The public, including Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, objected to litigation against Nurin's parents for negligence, emphasizing that the loss of their child would haunt them forever. The objections did raise the safety concerns of young children left unaccompanied beyond the vicinity of their own home. Parents agree that a heavier surveillance upon their children's whereabouts has to be implemented at all times, despite the amount of time they are able to spend with their children.
Unfortunately, amidst the support Jazimin Abdul Jalil and his wife received from the public, there were those cruel enough to ridicule them for being blatantly responsible for Nurin's murder. Some went to the extent of concocting stories to defame her family's name and reputation. Perhaps these citizens have a better idea on how to "take care of their children" after "making them."
Just because children are kept under lock and key, does this mean they are protected from the lurking psychopath with paedophiliac tendencies? The answer is a resounding "No!"
Mental Health Professional and Social Worker, Tammy Ruggles, describes the difficulty of identifying such a criminal. General characteristics of a potential perpetrator include: popularity with children and adults; demonstrates an air of trustworthiness and respectability; prefers the company of children.
These paedophiles are usually family-men with no criminal record and if they are not family-men, usually sport a children-friendly home. To make matters more complicated, a paedophile could also be female, who cohorts with a paedophile male.
With such a camouflage representation of a heinous criminal, concern against paedophilia does not begin when a child crosses beyond the house compound. In fact, paedophiles have infiltrated homes; the family's safe haven away from the dangers of the streets and public communes.
Negligence, as vague as it is defined by law, needs to be eradicated from the home's comfort too. A simple example is the use of the internet. Children as young as Nurin are users of the Net. They hook up to the web for education, entertainment and communication purposes – the few of many benefits of Internet use. Unfortunately, lewdness and perversion have also lethally injected themselves into the orbits of cyberspace, preying on vulnerable children and teenagers.
The National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families has revealed statistics stipulating that 86% of rapists admitted regular use of child pornography. Frighteningly enough, these rapists were exposed to such obscenity between the ages of 6 to 10. With children that young having easy access to computers in the home, the multi-billion dollar business of pornography is successfully churning out potential psychopaths who will be entwined in the crossfire of sexual violence.
If websites containing child pornography are not already a concern for parents, take for instance networking websites such as Friendster and MySpace. These sites provide social avenues on the web, allowing teenagers to post photographs, personal profiles and even their contact details – such as their chat ID or email address.
A child predator only needs to open a free account and browse for his or her victim of choice through a simple search function. He or she may select a location, age, gender and possibly even a school of choice. Having pulled up several candidates through the search, he or she may directly contact the child by sending him or her a message.
Your child has now come into contact with a paedophile.
It is inadequate for parents to assume that they are better caretakers of their children by ensuring that they are kept in the house under tight lock and key. In fact, besides the Internet, there are other windows of opportunities for paedophiles to fulfill their fantasies for young children.
Talent quests, talent shows, talk shows and reality television featuring pre-pubescent children are beginning to spawn on local channels. It may sound innocent having children perform their favourite bubblegum pop dance routines or chit chat idly about the latest fashion-sense while lathered in make-up. However, these small messages of "negligence" by parents can also entice interest in a paedophile, let alone a psychopath.
Not only is the child swaggering along to blasting music or pulling laughs by imitating adults, he or she is being encouraged by the screaming and applauding hysterical crowd - the majority of them being parents - alongside the performer's mother and father - basking in pride as their son or daughter gives suggestiveness a new meaning.
Have these parents taken precaution to protect their children from the paedophile? The answer is again, another resounding, "No!"
Do not feel compelled to only finding a potential perpetrator in the audience. What about the millions of adults watching these programmes from the comfort of their own homes?
Nurin's parents did not intentionally lock her out of her house in the middle of the night; neither did they push her into the arm's length of her perpetrator. They made a mistake of allowing her to leave the home alone for the nearby pasar, a place she frequented often with her sister.
Some parents interpret their housebound children as being protected from child criminals while they do nothing but surf the internet without supervision. Others are opening gateways for their child to bask in the limelight of a potential perpetrator by encouraging unwarranted display of vulnerability on national television.
Charles Montaldo, a private detective with various work experiences in crime prevention, relays that paedophiles enjoy child-oriented activities, refers to children in angelic terms and has hobbies that entice interests in children. Unfortunately, he also says that a paedophile "can be anyone - old or young, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, non-professional or professional, and of any race."
With the escalating concern that a paedophile could now be "anyone" in your child's life, Tammy Ruggles digresses, assuring that the majority of children who like and work with children are not paedophiles. Parents have to exercise discretion and follow their intuition should they suspect the presence of a paedophile in their child's social circle.
As Nurin's case unfolds and her memories put to rest, supporters and critics of her parents should take this opportunity to rethink negligence and work on a blanket protection for their children, in their every day lives. With a little self-supervision amidst supplication and support for Nurin's family, it is possible to prevent another innocent child to fall victim of such an abhorrent crime.
- Englishsection.com (A Division of Harakah)