The Jakarta Post
The internet is supposed to help children acquire knowledge more effectively, but a lack of parental supervision can turn it into a dangerous place.
The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) says the number of pornography or cybercrime cases involving children has increased to 679 in 2018 from 608 in the previous year.
“The ever-developing information technology makes it easier for children to get access to the internet nowadays. If these children are not monitored well, they can easily be exposed to negative content on the internet, like pornography,” said the KPAI’s commissioner for pornography and cybercrime, Margaret Aliyatul Maimunah.
As a result, the children could become victims of online sex crime. What is worse is that they could also become perpetrators themselves, she said.
In 2018, at least 250 children became victims of online sex crimes and pornography, according to KPAI records.
Furthermore, the commission recorded a growing number of young sex offenders in cyberspace.
The number of sex offenders below 17 years of age grew from 94 in 2016 to 102 and 96, in the following two years.
That trend marks a rapid increase from only 16 such cases recorded in 2013.
“In the past, we found that the majority of sex offenders were older people, but today the number of child sex offenders is rising. This could be the result of children’s increasing access to gadgets and the internet,” Margaret said,
Therefore, the commissioner urged parents to regularly monitor their children’s activities in cyberspace — what their children are doing and who they are “meeting” online — so as to protect them from any form of cybercrime and to prevent them from engaging in criminal activity as a result of accessing harmful content on the internet.
The KPAI further revealed that a phenomenon referred to as sextortion had emerged as a new online threat in Indonesia in 2018 and that children were among the victims. In sextortion, sexual information or images are used to extort sexual favors or money from victims.
The commission says it handled some sextortion cases against children last year but refused to divulge details of the cases to protect the victims — all of whom were girls.
“The perpetrators date the girls online and ask for sensual photos. Once they get the photos, they demand money from the victims, [threatening to otherwise] spread the photos online,” Margaret explained, added that all elements of society should work together to protect children from pornography and cybercrime.
The Communications and Information Ministry had in the past blocked micro-blogging and social networking website Tumblr and app Tik-Tok upon learning that they contained “pornography and inappropriate content”, but it unblocked the services after some adjustments had been made to address the concerns.
The KPAI expressed appreciation for the government’s effort but at the same time said it was insufficient to shield children from pornographic or other inappropriate content, as such content could still be accessed easily through other platforms, including video-sharing platform YouTube.
The Communications and Information Ministry said separately that it handled pornography, violence, defamation and more by blocking harmful content. In 2018, it said, some 984,441 pieces of “negative content” had been blocked on various social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube as well as on other Google services.
“Around 80 percent of the blocked content is pornographic,” said the acting head of the ministry’s public relations bureau, Ferdinandus Setu, as reported by kompas.com.
He asked social media users to report any harmful content they encountered to the ministry via its Twitter account @aduankonten, website aduankonten.id or WhatsApp number 0811-922-4545.
This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post's print edition on Jan. 9, 2019, with the title "Children 'trapped' in pornography: KPAI".