Predators on the loose With online sexual abuse rising amid a pandemic, parents and society have a role to play in improving internet literacy in young children who are most at-risk

Going online to connect with over 1,000 Facebook friends through posts of daily activities was the lifeline Nan* craved after each school lesson.

In the hopes of raking in likes and views, her life had become an open book. Everything from her deep-seated insecurities and vulnerabilities to her privileged upbringing made her the perfect victim for child grooming.

It started with a friend request from a young man with handsome model-like features, who quickly gained her trust. After hours on the phone, they began face-timing and that is when their relationship began to take a flirtatious turn. Nan was smitten by his good looks and gallantry and his weeks of efforts paid off as he cajoled her into stripping in front of a webcam.

This went on for weeks and his demand that she perform sexual acts in front of the camera become more bizarre. He threatened to release video clips he had recorded of her online when she wanted to end their relationship. This was when she was forced to tell her unsuspecting parents who then reached out to law enforcement for help.

Online sexual abuse of underage boys and girls has drastically risen during the pandemic, said Peabprom Mekhiyanont, deputy superintendent of Thailand’s internet crimes against children police bureau. Cases such as Nan are common and keep happening.

“Since the start of the pandemic, online child sex abuse cases have risen from 120,000 to 160,000 within a year. A rise of 40,000 cases is disturbing,” she said.

“Sexual abuse take on various forms and the demand for younger victims continues to grow. We have seen that the lure of easy money appeals to both rich and poor alike. What they don’t realise is how they end up having to pay back what they have earned. Blackmailing is a weapon used to keep victims in this situation. Online clips of this kind spread like wildfire and such offences are often repeated because of the number of hands these videos go through. People in possession of such material also intend to sell it, so it is a never-ending cycle.”

By investigating such crimes, Peabprom suggests a concentrated drive to improve internet literacy among Thai children as they tend to lay bare their life online. From posts describing their breakups to checking into every place they visit offers ammunition that child groomers can use against them.

Moreover, she said that in an effort to increase the number of Facebook friends, they add everyone that sends them a friend request “which in itself is a perilous move as they could be paedophiles in disguise”.

A disturbing pattern Peabprom has observed in certain cases is how some parents, mothers, in particular, are reluctant to report crimes to law enforcement because they desire to emotionally protect their children from reliving the experience during an investigation.

“This for police investigators can be unnerving because they will come to us for help, however, they do not want to see the case receive media attention because they feel a sense of fear and shame. They are ashamed of what society will think of the child and afraid that the perpetrator will hunt them down if a criminal charge is filed.

“While we need to reform our police protection system to assure victims they can file charges against an offence, we also need to collectively encourage parents to support us in bringing down the dark forces behind online child sex abuse.”

The police officer said one of the most vulnerable groups of children are kids under the age of 10. Offenders view them as easy prey for obvious reasons, she noted, so they often suffer long durations of sexual abuse which is often taped and uploaded online for audiences.

“It is not just strangers but sometimes people you know and respect that molest your child and put the taped act online. To protect their privacy, they blur their faces. This is exactly what happened to a middle-class military family who ran a restaurant business. The wife shared with me how she never allowed their five-year-old daughter out of her sight while she cooked for patrons. However, one afternoon, her husband’s boss came to order food. He was a man their family highly respected so she let down her guard momentarily and focused on preparing his order. He excused himself to use the toilet.”

“It was at this moment that he molested the girl, recorded the act, blurred his face and posted it on a popular app. After several weeks, her eldest daughter happened to come across this particular clip online and was able to identify the child by her dress. She quickly brought this to the attention of her parents. Luckily, the father of the victim did not bow under pressure and notified the police.”

Peabprom said the environment today has become dangerous and thus it has become necessary to teach young children to know the importance of not allowing anyone to touch their genitals and that if it ever happens to notify their parents.

“What we see today is highly disturbing. It is a call to protect this generation of children from paedophiles, who mind you can sometimes come in the garb of ‘powerful’ men who use their money and authority to lure children. These are also men that believe they are above the law, so they use intimidation to silence victims’ families.”

Peabprom encourages families and society as a whole to come together in protecting children today.

“Children need to feel that someone has their back no matter what. They need love and acceptance and a feeling of belonging. We as adults have to find time in our busy schedule to build their character because if we don’t, someone else will, which could very well lead them down the road of a destructive lifestyle.”


*Not her real name.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

A beautiful oak leaf portrait won the 2021 Nikon Small World photography contest

A closeup view of even the most common objects can make the mundane look spectacular. A glimpse of the underside of a southern live oak tree leaf, which won first ... Read more »

How metal-infused jaws give some ants an exceptionally sharp bite

If you’ve ever felt the wrath of a biting or stinging insect, it may seem incredible that something so small can so easily slice or puncture human skin. Scientists already ... Read more »

A newfound boa sports big eyes and a square nose

A wide-eyed snake has made scientists do a double take. The Hispaniolan vineboa, with its large protruding eyes and square snout, is the first boa species to be discovered in ... Read more »

Fossil tracks may reveal an ancient elephant nursery

Fossilized footprints found on a beach in southern Spain betray what may have been a nursery for an extinct species of elephant. The track-rich coastal site, which scientists have dubbed ... Read more »

Netflix finally eyes TV's top prize with 'The Crown' at in-person Emmys

Leading streamer Netflix has never won best drama at the Emmys — nor best comedy, nor best limited series LOS ANGELES: Netflix is tipped to finally win television's biggest prize ... Read more »

14,555 new Covid cases, 171 more deaths

A food rider and other motorists wait for a train to pass through a crossing in Bangkok on Wednesday. Food delivery booms in Thailand after the Covid-19 outbreak forces people ... Read more »

Villagers slam EIA report on Yuam water project

A group of ethnic villagers who oppose a plan to divert water from the Yuam River to Bhumibol dam is planning to submit a protest letter to Prime Minister Prayut ... Read more »

AQ hotels see occupancy rates plummet

Food service during quarantine at Rattanakosin Hotel, an alternative quarantine hotel. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul) Alternative quarantine (AQ) hotels are enduring their lowest occupancy rates, amid signs that infection levels have peaked ... Read more »

Corporate takeover Loxley's popular in-house food service goes local

I first learnt about Tamrub Guru, this week's subject of Eating In, via online ads. The brand’s title is a bilingual word play betweeen tamrub, Thai for recipe, and English ... Read more »

Robinhood Is Going on a College Tour to Recruit New Customers The app criticized for gamifying trading is kicking off a nationwide push to court students, including a shot at a $20,000 prize

Robinhood Markets Inc., the go-to trading app for young investors, wants its user base to get even younger. The digital brokerage is kicking off a nationwide marketing campaign Wednesday that ... Read more »

Making amends Netflix's Afterlife Of The Party is a formulaic rom-com about a woman given a second chance to right her wrongs on Earth

Midori Francis and Timothy Renouf in Afterlife Of The Party. Netflix Thailand Whether you believe in life after death or not, we can all agree that it would be nice ... Read more »

Time flies The Oris Okavango Air Rescue Limited Edition supports doctors in Southern Africa

Okavango Air Rescue’s service now covers the whole of the Southern African continent. Justin de Reuck2016www.aviati Through its “Change For The Better” initiative, Oris has supported projects across the world, ... Read more »

Protests immortalised in art

Artist Jirapatt Aungsumalee. photos courtesy of VS Gallery When a writer replaces his pen for a paintbrush, the outcome takes on a new dimension as seen in the artworks of ... Read more »

TPCH eyes options as wood chip prices rise Company considers other renewable fuels

TPCH’s wood chip-fired power plant, with a capacity of 9.9MW, in the southern province of Satun. Higher prices for wood chips are causing TPC Power Holding Plc (TPCH), a renewable ... Read more »

Ananda slashes transfer, presales targets

Sermsak Khwanpuang, chief finance officer, Ananda Development Plc. SET-listed developer Ananda Development has cut its transfer and presales targets for 2021 by 37% and 24%, respectively, after the most recent ... Read more »

Hotels pin hopes on Bangkok revival

Travel resumes at Suvarnabhumi airport following the end of a ban on domestic flights on Sept 1. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul Hotels hope the reopening of Bangkok in October and domestic stimulus campaigns ... Read more »

SMEs offer timid support of restart Plan must include Covid safeguards

The atmosphere at Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok, which reopened following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. Only about 10% of vendors resumed trade. Apichart Jinakul The Federation of Thai SME has ... Read more »

New programme hones in on cybersecurity skills

The National Cyber Security Agency (NCSA) is gearing up to develop the cybersecurity skills of personnel working in seven sectors of critical information infrastructure (CII) through an intensive capacity-building programme, ... Read more »

SCB Abacus growth lures tech investors Lender raises US$12 million in funding

SCB Abacus, an alternative digital lending platform under Siam Commercial Bank, has raised US$12 million (396 million baht) in a Series A funding round and targets digital loan growth of ... Read more »

Methods sought to ease airlines' liquidity crunch

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith has instructed the Fiscal Policy Office and the Bank of Thailand to jointly seek ways to relax some of the criteria for state banks to lend ... Read more »

Direct sales sector forecast to slip just 1-2% this year

Thailand's direct sales industry is expected to contract by 1-2% this year as consumer purchasing power remains weak due to the spread of Covid-19. Kittawat Ritteerawee, president of the Thai ... Read more »

Agency urges reworking

The government is being advised to speed up developing infrastructure for science, technology and digital as well as promote private investment in R&D next year to spur the economy and ... Read more »

Oct 1 reopening up in air Experts say target may be premature

The Public Health Ministry yesterday addressed concerns raised by academics over the government's plan to reopen the country to vaccinated foreign tourists starting next month. The plan is in line ... Read more »

Chiang Mai mountain reserve-listed Doi Chiang Dao gets Unesco approval

Chiang Dao Cave is located at the foot of Doi Chiang Dao Mountain. The cave, full of stunning stalactites and stalagmites, is a tourist magnet in Chiang Mai. photos by apichit ... Read more »

Moderna jab nod for 12-17 year-olds

Thailand's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given approval for the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to be administered to adolescents aged from 12 to 17, ZP Therapeutics, a division of Zuellig ... Read more »

Hua Lamphong to get a makeover

The Transport Ministry is conducting a study to develop Hua Lamphong railway station and its adjoining areas for commercial purposes, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said. He said the ministry has ... Read more »

Torture, disappearance bills pass MPs of all banners praise legislation

Four long-awaited bills on torture and forced disappearances sailed through the House of Representatives yesterday. A total of 368 MPs voted in favour of the bills with one abstention. The ... Read more »

NACC told to release watch scandal details

Prawit: ‘No need to declare watches’ The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will study the details of the Central Administrative Court's order that the agency disclose a probe into a luxury ... Read more »

Phuket faces clinic bed shortage crisis

Phuket is facing a critical bed shortage as Covid-19 spreads throughout the island, said Wachira Phuket Hospital yesterday. Chalermpong Sukhonthaphol, director of the hospital, said the bed occupancy by patients ... Read more »

Govt plans out booster shots

The government will provide a booster shot against Covid-19 for those who received alternative vaccines, according to Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. The minister was responding to questions concerning recipients ... Read more »

Samuel Adams set to release its 2021 Utopias beer. At 28% ABV, it's illegal in 15 states

Samuel Adams beer maker Boston Beer Co. is ready to release its potent Utopias beer, which weighs in at 28% alcohol by volume – a strength that makes it illegal ... Read more »

Lawmakers vote on law against torture, disappearances

Activists hold up pictures of abducted activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit as people gather in support of him during a protest calling for an investigation, in front of Government House on June ... Read more »

Bed shortage looms in Phuket as caseload surges Occupation rate reaches critical point, says hospital chief

A field hospital is set up at Phuket Rajabhat University on Sept 8 this year. (Photo: Achadtaya Chuenniran) PHUKET: The resort island has added more beds for Covid-19 patients as ... Read more »

Man arrested for murder of wife, stepson 10 years ago

Sawai Khanpakwaen, 60, seated right, former chairman of tambon Pho Klang administration organisation in Muang district of Nakhon Ratchasima, is questioned after his arrest in Surat Thani for shooting dead ... Read more »

HK had world's second largest billionaire population in urban centres

A general view showing the Central Business District, in Hong Kong on Sept 15, 2021. (Reuters photo) HONG KONG: Hong Kong had 111 billionaire residents, the second-largest such population among ... Read more »

The lowdown on tax box 1, 2 and 3 – plus other common tax terms

When you land in the Netherlands, you aren’t just dealing with a different language, employer and queuing etiquette – ­you also have to deal with the Belastingdienst. The Dutch tax ... Read more »

PostToday, Super Trader Republic and Chulalongkorn University unveil PostToday Republic New club catalyses business dynamism with holistic courses and services

From left: Prapat Phungboonpisan, Co-Chief Operating Officer, PTR; Isaraporn Bunnag, First Vice President – Marketing, Bangkok Post Group; Krasuang Jarusira, Co-Chief Executive Officer, PTR; Dr. Ronnachit Mahattanapreut, Chief Executive Officer, ... Read more »

Grand Seiko increases its warranty to five years

Since its global launch in 2010, Grand Seiko has expanded its after-sales service operations in line with its ever-increasing international acceptance. Today, Grand Seiko is proud to announce that it ... Read more »

Princess Yachts provided a new level of design and sophistication at the 2021 Cannes Yachting Festival

Global debut of the all-new Princess Y72 motor yacht at Cannes evidences commitment to sustainability and reduced environmental impacts leading to new initiatives and innovative partnerships Princess Yachts, the UK’s ... Read more »