Child Abuse Issue in Malaysia

by Darya Ebrahimi

Children are an integral part of society, they are the future and play a pivotal role in development. They not only should be provided with the environment to be moulded into good human beings but as children they should be awarded the basic human rights to protection and safety. Therefore it is important to protect our children from abuse, defined as harming children with an intention of harm to children below the age of 18 by an adult of another child. This is by no means a new issue in Malaysia or globally. However, it tends to fall in the shadows and receives limited attention. It is a complex issue and should be treated as such.

In 2019 in the midst of the financial crisis in Mlayaisa the number of child abuse cases saw an increase. As released by the Department of Social Welfare, an upwards of 2000 cases of child abuse are reported each year in the nation. The collective number of reported child abuse cases in 2019 was a devastating 6,061.

Apart from pain inflicted, abuse can also hinder children’s mental and emotional growth, leading them to become self-isolating and carry the burden of heavy trauma. This trauma can go on to predispose these children to crime.

From an economic standpoint there are many factors as to the occurrence of child abuse. Unemployment is one of the leading causes of child abuse cases in Malaysia, a study done on the effects and causes of child abuse, revealed that the higher number of unemployment correlated with the increase rates of child abuse cases. This can be a plausible cause for child abuse, as the stress and anxiety parents experience from unemployment can directly put these defenseless children in harms way and essentially make them prey to their parents. It has been widely reported that unemployed fathers have a tendency to abuse their children.

In 2022, between the months of January to June, there were a total of 1,055 cases of child abuse recorded nation wide as revealed by the women, family and community development ministry. The statistics go as follows, the highest number of case was physical abuse (54.8%), followed by sexual abuse (39.6%) and emotional abuse standing at (5.6%).

But how can the government work towards creating preventative measures in the face of child abuse? There are a variety of routes that can be taken, but some include providing parenting support. This entails setting up youth and family centres where parents are able to communicate with professionals and caretakers their problems and reach a solution together. Furthermore, public information campaigns against child abuse have proven to be effective in addresing child abuse within countries. These campaigns are often spearheaded by governments to increase the information present at preventing child abuse, allowing people close to these children to recognise signs of abuse and take action. Lastly, professionals who work with children, such as teachers and doctors should be required by law to report abuse if and when they suspect it. Our children deserve to live in a better world where they are respected and given the opportunity to grow up peacefully.