The view that sexual predators are “dirty old men” is a myth, they can be anyone, says Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh as he urged parents to monitor their children and ensure they are not being drawn into the “dark Web”.
Speaking on the debate of the Sexual Offenders (Amendment) Bill 2019 at the Parliament sitting yesterday, Deyalsingh said that the Internet poses a “real threat”.
He said it is up to parents to take control as he quoted from an online report which stated that young adolescents are the most vulnerable age group and are at high risk of being approached by online predators.
“We used to explore our sexuality long time by going to party, now they are doing it on the Internet in the privacy of their homes with a camera, no one can see them. When we go to a party long time, a ‘rent a tile’, everybody seeing you,” he said.
Parents, he said, have to be armed with the tools to minimise the risk of their child becoming a victim of online predatory behaviour.
Deyalsingh listed some of the things a parent can do, which includes monitoring their children’s use of the Internet and:
1. If you see your child or teen spending a lot of time on the Net, chances are they are starting to look at these sites.
2. Go on to your family computer and see if there is porn.
3. Start to see if your child is receiving phone calls—it means the online predator is making contact.
4. See if your child starts to receive mail or gifts unannounced.
5. See if your child starts to withdraw from family gatherings and goes into a shell.
6. Check to see if your child is using somebody else’s account to hide what they are doing on the Internet.
“If your child starts to display these characteristics chances are they are being groomed,” he said.
He also disclosed that he met with four local and one foreign expert on this matter and he asked them if there was a particular trait or profile of a sexual predator.
“You know when we talk about sexual predators for children we think about the dirty old men, that is a myth,” Deyalsingh said.
He said that most persons who are abused do not themselves go on to be abusers.
However, he said the majority of sexual offenders do have a history of maltreatment or abuse.
Deyalsingh said most victims of sex crimes are targeted by persons known to them and not strangers.
Therefore, he said, communities should be educated about sexual victimisation.
The victims, he said, often feel that they have brought this upon themselves and suffer from shame, guilt, depression and anxiety.
He said there is no predictive element to say who can be a predator—it could be anybody.