Archive for the ‘Children's Safety’ Category

Youngest sextortion victim is 14

Friday, May 19th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: The youngest victim of online sextortion in Malaysia is only 14 years old, said Head of the Consumer Protection and Complaints Bureau Department, Ratnawaty Talib.

She told participants of a seminar on empowering consumer rights yesterday that about 99 percent of sextortion victims were males between 25 and 45 years old.

She said a total of 300 complaints were received last year.

To avoid falling into such traps, Ratnawaty advised social media users to be vigilant and to abstain from accepting ‘friends requests’ from strangers through social media such as Facebook.

She said the amount extorted ranged from RM2,000 to RM5,000.

Ratnawaty said those extorting for money would threaten to upload the video(s) of the victim to YouTube if the money was not paid.

“Don’t panic. Lodge a complaint with MCMC which will report the matter to YouTube to take down the video.

If money has been paid, a police report needs to be lodged so that investigation can be started,” she said, adding that payment should not be made.

Meanwhile, computer users, particularly business entities, must take proactive steps for protection against virus attacks.

Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) Network Security and Enforcement sector chief officer  Zulkarnain Mohd Yasin said they must update their virus software constantly for protection against any malware attacks.

“When it comes to virus, protection is always better,” he told reporters at the seminar to empower consumer rights held at the Sutera Harbour Resort near here, yesterday.

by Jenne Lajiun.

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Parents take initiative to monitor children’s online habits.

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Parents are taking proactive action to supervise their children when it comes to gruesome and unwanted graphic content online.

Tengku Mazlinda Tengku Mahmood, 37, a government-linked company manager, said she was concerned over the growing number of disturbing and graphic videos, which are easily available online, including on free video sharing site YouTube.

“There is so much inappropriate content lying around and there is no specific way to block them other than uninstalling the application on your tablet or laptop,” said the mother of two yesterday.

Tengku Mazlinda said she would try to monitor her children when they surf online, especially when it comes to watching videos or playing online games.

“I try to observe them as much as I can and some of the cartoon characters are fine.

“However, there are instances where they type certain words in the search engine and disturbing videos or graphic content will be shown,” she said.

“There must be some way for parents to block this type of content, which often gets lumped together with general content for children,” she added.

Journalist Charmaine Ng, 42, would monitor her children whenever they go online, but because of her challenging career, she said it was impossible to watch everything they do.

“So, I will try to teach them what violence and sex are. What is good and what is bad.

“I teach them to judge and decide. If they are not sure, they can always talk to me,” she said.

In the case of graphic videos, Ng said her children had chanced upon these many times and the second they see violence or adult content, they would sound the bell and stop watching alone.

“They would wait for me to watch together with them and explain to them or not watch at all, but wait for me to tell them why it is bad,” she said, concurring with other parents that there should also be some sort of control mechanism over such videos.
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Education Ministry to ensure schools adhere to SOP

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Education and the State Education Department will continue to ensure that schools all over the country adhere to the rules stated in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).

This is to ensure the safety of students and to prevent mishaps such as the one in Membakut several days ago, whereby three school boys had drowned during a leadership course.

“We do have our own SOP. We constantly remind the schools and district education offices to always abide by the rules of the SOP.

“For the public’s information, activities such as these are conducted quite often here in Malaysia. However, it is very unfortunate that this tragedy has happened in Sabah.

“We try to minimize. It would be even better if we can prevent it from happening at all.

“So that is why we constantly remind schools to always stick to the SOP to ensure that in everything they do, the safety of the students should be the school’s priority. This is the policy of the Ministry of Education,” said Deputy Education Director Datuk Amin Senin.

Commenting on the parents’ demand for further explanation, Amin said that there was no need for such explanation as an official report had already been lodged.

He further explained that this issue had been brought up to the Education Ministry and the reports and investigations from the State Education Department had been submitted.

When asked about the possibility of legal action being taken by the parents, Amin said that he was not able to comment further as all he could do now is to wait for the outcome. However, Amin disclosed that his department will nevertheless respond accordingly.

“We have to wait for the follow-up and it will be based on the reports received,” he said, in explaining whether the teachers involved will be facing legal charges.

Commenting on the assistance that will be given to the families of the victims, Amin said that the State Education Department had already discussed with the respective families since the early stages of this case.

Apart from that, Amin had also given an explanation regarding the release form that had been signed by the parents.

“The declaration signed by the parents was based on their own consent,” said Amin.

It is understood that prior to the signing of the release form, there was no indication that the students were suffering from any sort of illness.

On April 29, SMK Putatan’s Hafiz Hamizan Rahman, 16, Daniel Norman, 16, and Khuzaimi Zakaran, 17, had tragically drowned while trekking along a man-made stream at the Eco Lake Resort in Membakut.

Initital reports claimed that the three students had slipped into a lake after the side slopes collapsed beneath them.

However, in a shocking turn of events, eyewitnesses revealed that the resort appointed guide had led the students towards the lake and had instructed them to get down the ledge and into the lake, with the intention of crossing it.

by Neil Brian Joseph.

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Student camp organisers should adhere to SOP – Kamalanathan

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Organisers of camps involving school students should ensure their activities are in compliance with the set standard operating procedures (SOPs), said Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan.

He said any negligence in implementing their responsibility could lead to untoward incidents.

“Schools and organisers should be cautious when conducting such programmes,” he told a media conference after officiating the pre-launch of the national-level Teachers’ Day celebration held at the Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday.

Three students of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Putatan in Sabah were reported to have drowned in an overflowing stream while attending a camp at a resort in Membakut near Beaufort on Saturday.

The victims, Hamizan Rahman, 16, Daniel Norman Norisham, 16, and Quzaimi Jakaria, 17, were reported to be trekking along the stream when they drowned.


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Cops to probe school gangsterism after videos of rowdy youths go viral.

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

SHAH ALAM: Rampant gangsterism in schools is back in the limelight with the arrest of 13 schoolboys after a commotion outside a school in Klang.

Selangor police have set up a task force to investigate gangland activities in schools after videos of a group of motorcyclists creating a ruckus outside the school in Taman Sri Andalas went viral.

Selangor CID chief Senior Asst Comm Fadzil Ahmat said although the motive for the commotion was still being probed, the 13 schoolboys and five others had been remanded.

“The 13 students arrested were from schools in the area, while the five other youths were working as mechanics and security guards.

“We have remanded them for four days to assist in investigations,” he told reporters at the Selangor police headquarters here.

He said as soon as the video went viral, a police report was lodged and the task force was formed.

“Together with Bukit Aman CID, we launched a series of operations on Thursday night and arrested the youths, aged between 16 and 25.

“We are investigating the case under Section 52 of the Societies Act 1966 for using a triad ritual,” he said.

The arrests came after two videos of motorcyclists causing a commotion outside the school went viral on Thursday night.

In the first video clip, the group is seen shouting and revving motorcycle engines outside the school.

They are also seen holding up banners, one of which bears the letter “24”, “TD4” and a black swastika.

One youth swings firecrackers around as frightened schoolchildren scurry away.

The second video starts with a close-up of a cake with the words “SMK Sri Andalas”, “24” and “Apache” written on it.

At least one of the motorcyclists in this clip is seen wearing a school uniform. The location and time of the 24-second footage appear to be the same as the first.

Authorities have been fighting gangsterism in schools for years.

In 2010, The Star reported about drunken, foul-mouthed schoolboys attacking others and molesting girls in a school at Rawang.

The schoolboys also brazenly painted the school walls with their gang numbers. However, the walls have since been painted over and the gang activities have gone quiet.

At the time, teachers, parents and residents had opted to keep quiet as they were afraid of what these teenagers could do to them.

Molestation was said to be rampant, but almost all the cases went unreported as victims feared more severe “repercussions’’.

The matter came to light after a police report was lodged by several girls over the rape of a 14-year-old girl at their school premises.

The girl had been repeatedly raped by some of her classmates in various locations of the school over a three-week period.

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Fire safety: One child dies every two weeks from fire-related injuries

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: WITH a reported 265,000 childhood deaths every year worldwide caused by fire-related incidents, The World Health Organisation (WHO) has categorised burns as a global public health problem.

WHO also reported that more than half the deaths take place in Southeast Asia, with most of the cases happening in low- and middle-income countries. Non-fatal burn injuries are a leading cause of morbidity, with fire-related injuries occurring mainly in the home and workplace.

In Malaysia, statistics have shown that a child dies every two weeks from fire and burn injuries, and 54 per cent of respondents in a survey have reported incidents of burns and scalds at home.

With the level of fire safety awareness still wanting, the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry engaged Safe Kids Malaysia Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) to conduct a pilot study on fire safety involving 640 parents of children aged between 7 and 12 years.

The study, conducted last year, discovered that only one in three parents consistently taught their kids about fire safety and only 11 per cent of parents reported that schools frequently taught fire safety education.

It also found out that 6.4 per cent of parents reported a fire in their homes in the past two years.

Based on the study, a pilot project, Safe Kids At Home: Preventing Fire and Burns, was rolled out in March in nine primary schools in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur.

The schools are SK Seri Delima, SK Bandar Baru Sentul, SK Sentul 1, SK Kiaramas, SJK (T) Segambut, SJK (T) Fletcher, SJK (T) Sentul, SJK (C) Chung Kwok and SJK (C) Sentul Pasar.

The six-month project, in partnership with the Fire and Rescue Department, is expected to benefit some 6,000 students by the time it is completed.

Deputy Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique said the lack of awareness of the importance of fire safety among Malaysian children was alarming.

“In 2016, the Fire and Rescue Department conducted 5,251 fire safety awareness talks and 6,089 fire drills to educate society on the importance of this matter,” she said.

The initiatives, she said, would be followed by more programmes by the Fire and Rescue Department to keep children safe from preventable injuries, namely burns and fire.

Malaysia is the first country in Southeast Asia selected for the programme after China and India.

“I hope the programme, which started in Sentul, will eventually be scaled up and reach more children in more areas over time.

“One day, we will cover the entire nation,” she said.

Safe Kids Malaysia UPM executive director Associate Professor Dr Kulanthayan K.C. Mani hoped more children would benefit from the programme in the future.

“There is clearly a need to educate children and encourage more parents to reinforce key safety messages at home.

“Parents may expect their kids to be educated on fire safety awareness in school, but that may not always be the case,” he said.

“Based on the study, we found out that there is a critical need for fire and burn education for children,” he told the New Sunday Times.

The programme, he said, went specifically into the aspect of education in fire and burns prevention for children.

According to WHO, burns were the 11th leading cause of death of children aged 1 to 9, and were also the fifth most common cause of non-fatal childhood injuries. While a major risk was improper adult supervision, a considerable number of burn injuries in children resulted from child maltreatment.

Another risk factor for burns was the socio-economic aspect, namely poverty, overcrowding and lack of proper safety measures.

Kulanthayan said children from low- and middle-income families were more susceptible to burn injuries due to lack of space.

“People in this socio-economic group are typically confined to a tight living space, where the kitchen is located quite close to other parts of the house.

“In some cases, children even end up playing in the kitchen, where they have access to a water heater, iron, rice cooker and other kitchenware.”

For the study, Kulanthayan led a team of experts to conduct the first-ever fire and burn survey in the country to measure the level of awareness of preventable burn injuries and deaths among children.

The study found out that 51 per cent of parents were worried that their children were likely to suffer from a burn or scald at home than any other injury.

“Parents play a pivotal role in preventing fire and burn injuries at home,” he said.

The top five most common causes of burn injuries at home, he said, included touching a hot utensil (24.4 per cent), hot iron (21.7 per cent), hot water heater (17.2 per cent), having close contact with motorcycle exhaust pipes (16.7 per cent) and burning firecrackers (14.4 per cent).

“A child touching a hot wok in the kitchen stove may only be treated for a mild injury.

“However, the child is susceptible to second- or third-degree burns when the wok overturns and spills its hot content,” he said.


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Educating children on fire and burn safety

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Representatives of Honeywell, Safe Kids Malaysia and Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia with students from schools participating in the Safe Kids at Home programme.

LAUNCH: The World Health Organisation’s Global Burden of Disease estimates that 265,000 childhood deaths from fire-related burns occur each year, with a majority of them happening in low- and middle-income countries.

More than half the deaths take place in the Southeast Asian region, including in Malaysia, where it is reported that one child dies every two weeks due to fires or other burns.

Recognising the need to create awareness of this global public health issue, Safe Kids Malaysia (a non-profit organisation that aims to improve the lives of children in Malaysia) has launched the ‘Safe Kids at Home’ educational programme, designed to help prevent deaths by fires and burns among children aged 7 to 12 years old.

Together in partnership with the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Safe Kids Worldwide and Honeywell Hometown Solutions, the programme was developed based on the findings of a 2016 survey conducted by Safe Kids Malaysia and UPM titled How Safe is Your Home? Protecting Children from Fire, Burns and Scalds in Kuala Lumpur.

At the release of the research findings, executive director of Safe Kids Malaysia UPM, Associate Professor Dr Kulanthayan KC Mani, said: “The research has identified a critical need for fire and burn education for children, and we look forward to starting to implement the Safe Kids at Home programme in nine schools in Sentul,

Kuala Lumpur.”

Key research findings were:

• More than half of the parents (54 per cent) reported that their children had suffered one form of a burn or scald injury in the past two years

• 51 per cent of parents are worried that their children are more likely to suffer a burn or scald than any other injury

• Only 1 in 3 parents consistently teach their kids about fire safety

• 11 per cent of parents reported that schools frequently teach fire safety education

• More than 80 per cent of parents stated that they use toothpaste as remedy, which

can actually worsen the injuries

UPM Vice-Chancellor, Professor Datin Paduka Dr Aini Ideris, said: “As one of the top research universities in Malaysia, we are proud to partner with two outstanding global organisations — Safe Kids Worldwide and Honeywell.


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Kids deserve education

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

I WAS lucky to be introduced in 2014 to a group of Dutch expatriates living in Malaysia. They have been volunteering at several refugee learning centres in Kuala Lumpur. When we met for the first time, I was taken aback by their stories about the children they support.

That first conversation led to se­veral more meetings, and eventually they resulted in the formation of Ideas Academy. This is our learning centre in Pudu, where we provide secondary level education for refugee children from 12 countries.

We started in 2014 with just 25 students. Today, we have over 100. The Academy has done well. Bearing in mind that all the students come from challenging backgrounds, our teachers have done wonders to support their growth.

The teachers’ tireless effort was rewarded last year when we won the 2016 Outstanding Contribution to Secondary Education Award from the Malaysian office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

When we decided to set up the Academy, we opted to specialise in secondary level education as we felt there was a need for this in the Pudu area. This was a very risky decision because it brought with it a very high cost. Let me give some examples why the costs are higher.

Unlike primary level, where the lessons are quite generic and basic in nature, secondary level education involves more technical subjects. For instance, science (and eventually biology, chemistry, and physics) is more effective if we can conduct experiments but the material and equipment are not cheap.

When it comes to secondary education, we need to factor in that Malaysia does not recognise refugees and our Government’s policy is to remove them from this country when we can. Thus, we must use a curriculum that allows the students to continue their studies when they move. Hence, we use the Cambridge IGCSE curriculum. This pushes costs up, especially to employ experienced teachers, buy textbooks and to pay the IGCSE exam fees.

But we decided to take the financial risk. Our gut-feeling told us that all children deserved a chance and we must do what we can to help.

Going by the numbers, I am pretty sure our hunch was correct.

The UNHCR website said at the end of January there were 150,430 refugees in Malaysia. This is the registered number. I am confident that if we included the unregistered ones, that number would be higher.

Out of that, 133,856 were from Myanmar, comprising some 56,135 Rohingya, 39,967 Chins, 10,662 Myanmar Muslims, 4,767 Rakhines and Arakanese, and the rest were other Myanmar ethnicities.

Then there were 16,574 refugees and asylum-seekers from other countries, including 3,198 Pakistanis, 2,907 Sri Lankans, 1,925 Yemenis, 1,875 Syrians, 1,712 Somalis, 1,449 Iraqis, 887 Afghans, 686 Palestinians and more from other countries.

There are 21,405 children who are at school age. But it is illegal for these children to attend government schools here. And since Malaysian laws ban their parents from working to earn money, of course they are too poor to afford private schools. Their only option is to go to charity learning centres.

There are not enough learning centres to cater to the demand. There are just 124 learning centres in the country. As a result, from the 7,703 children who are supposed to get an early education, only 1,027 (15%) do so. Out of the 9,902 who were supposed to attend primary school, only 4,964 (50%) could.

The number is worse for secon­dary level because there are only two learning centres that specialise in providing secondary level education, ours being one of them. There are a few more who combine primary and secondary education under one roof but that, too, is far from enough. Out of the 4,480 children who were supposed to attend secondary school, only 863 (19%) are in a learning centre.

It is heart-warming that our Government is taking steps to help Rohingya refugees. This should be extended to cover all refugees so that we are not accused of discriminatorily picking skin colours.

All children, including refugees from all races and religions, deserve an education.

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Heng: Don’t abandon children if unable to care for them

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

IPOH: Parents who are no longer able to look after their children should send them to Welfare Department-registered welfare homes, said Wanita MCA chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie.

Heng said that parents should never neglect the welfare of their children, adding that it would be safer if a child was cared for in a registered home.

“Parents could also call MCA’s Legal Advisory and Women Aid centre to help get their unwanted child adopted. There are many couples that are unable to have children who are willing to adopt,” she told reporters during a feng shui talk at Wisma MCA Perak here on Sunday.

Heng said that there are alternatives to abandoning children.

“Malaysians are a caring society. Whenever there’s a disaster, they are always ready to spring into action,” she added.

Heng was asked to comment about a three-year-old boy who was found naked and crying alone in a house in Tampin, Negri Sembilan on Friday.

The mother, who was unemployed, is believed to have left him there alone while she went out to look after her mentally-ill mother and stepmother who was injured in a road accident.

The police have since remanded the mother for investigations.

Asked about stateless children, Heng said that those who plan to leave their children at welfare homes, temples or other institutions should leave them with the necessary documents for them to obtain citizenship.


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Islander children risk their lives to reach school

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017


Marilyn with her son at the school after arriving from the island

SANDAKAN: School children living on several islands of Sabah have to go through the daily perils of the sea condition among others to get to their school on the mainland.

Despite the risk, their parents also need to fork out extra money from boat to bus fares just to have their children education.

For 31-year-old widow, Mursa Arni, who resides at Pulau Berhala, it can be a big challenge as she has two school-going children.

“I want my children to receive education even if their school is on the mainland,” she said yesterday when met while sending her children to school on the first day of class.

They were up before 5am as they have to catch a special boat for schoolchildren, where the boat operators charges RM2 for secondary student and 50 sen for a single trip, to the mainland.

According to Mirsa, the boat journey takes 40 minutes to the Sandakan Market jetty where her children will continue their journey to school in a school bus.

“I have my primary 4 and 1 children who are both studying at SK Sri Tanjung Papat 2 which is on the seafront at Kampung Sim-Sim Berhala Darat,” she said.

Mirsa would wait for them till the school sessions ends like what she did with her elder child. “It will be too costly and long trip for me to return home and later coming out again to fetch them from school,” said the mother of five who lost her husband six months ago to sickness.

Now staying with her parents, Mirsa said that she only wanted the best for her children who should have better future.

Meanwhile, the boat operator, Linda Juanitu, 45, who is operating the business with her husband, said they have been operating the service since 2010.

“I understand the feeling of parents as I have 10 children with three of them going to the same primary school like Mursa’s children,” she said adding that they want their children to acquire knowledge.


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