Last week, CILISOS was invited to a screening at TGV One Utama to watch a two-minute video. If you thought The Conjuring was the creepiest thing you’ve ever watched, what we saw that day gave us goosepimples the size of freshly-popped corn. But don’t take our word for it… you can watch it for yourself. Just be warned that some viewers may find the contents disturbing.
You can watch the regular video here, but if you have a VR headset (click here for buying options) or reading this on mobile, click the video below for a first-person view. You can move your phone around for a 360º experience:
OMG what did I just watch???
The video you’ve just watched is one in a series of three videos made by Malaysian ad agency NagaDBB for Stop Nursery Crimes, an initiative they’ve started with local NGO Protect and Save the Children to create awareness on child sexual abuse. The regular versions will also be shown during the ads segment (y’know, before the movie starts)at all TGV cinema outlets for 18+ rated movies.
We featured Suriram, the BM version of these videos, but they’ve also made them in English and Mandarin which you can watch below:
Itsy-Bitsy Fingers (Click here for regular version)
一二三四五六七 (Click here for regular version)
These videos are coming in at a time when the issue of Malaysian child sex crimes and pedophilia is coming into the public limelight, first with the MARA student in the UK who was caught with 30,000 articles of child pornography, then with the case of Richard Huckle who abused 200 Malaysian children, and the exposé by The Star’s R.AGE team of Malaysian pedophiles grooming children on social media.
But why did NagaDDB make these videos so graphic? I don’t want to see this!
Stop Nursery Crimes actually started two years ago – way before this subject became a serious talking point – when the daughter of NagaDDB’s Executive Creative Director almost became a victim herself.
Two years ago, the ECD’s 9-year old daughter came close to being molested by her own teacher, which he says was only prevented because his wife taught her about danger signs and listened when she indicated that something was wrong.
It was when he shared what his family was going though with his team that someone thought “Hey, WE can do something to educate the public about pedophilia and the importance of proper safety skills for children!”
“We’re an ad agency. If we can convince you to switch from one telco to another, we can also convince you to change social perceptions.” – NagaDDB’s Executive Creative Director
And so the team started started the project on their own personal time – meaning that they worked on it on top of their daily office work!
After the video screening, there was a Q&A session with people from several organizations including the PDRM, several NGOs, and of course, NagaDDB. One of the major concerns voiced after the screening was the graphic nature of the videos… they might be unsettling to some people, and may even trigger traumatic memories from those who have been sexually assaulted.
But whether for better or worse, the NagaDDB team felt that the videos should provoke some sort of reaction (even outrage) because sexual crimes against children are, unfortunately, a very real problem:
“The videos were meant to bring the gravity of the issue to light. The original ideas were tamer … but after long discussions we decided to tell it as it is. There is so much apathy and denial about this issue we felt we needed to jolt people into what’s really happening to so many of our kids. It wasn’t easy for us creating these films too but we felt that we had to. I hope we didn’t make a bad decision.” – NagaDDB’s ECD
At the same time though, a number of steps were taken to prevent unintentional harm from the videos, such as the posting of a trigger warning before they’re are shown in the cinema. Also, the decision for the videos to be shown only before 18+ movies was made because an NGO advised the team that children may mimic the nursery rhymes (or Nursery Crimes, rather) without knowing what they meant.
The team also went though great lengths to make sure that the children involved in the videos weren’t traumatized by the experience by having long discussions with parents – many of whom withdraw after seeing the script. For the most part though, the younger kids had no idea what was happening (in regards to the subject matter) so the shoot was a fun experience for them.
“We explained things to the older kids. The boy in the Chinese video was fully aware of what was happening. After every shoot he would go wash himself.” – NagaDDB’s ECD
And the reason why they’re going through so much trouble to get this level of shock value is because…
Many child predators get away because apparently, our thinking is still very kolot
Most of us would remember our parents telling us to be careful of strangers, or at worst, to be careful of “the bad [insert race here] man”. Many of us might also remember being pushed to give Uncle Chong a hug during Chinese New Year even if we don’t want to.
Practices like these are considered problematic because, according to Dr. Watichalla, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development‘s policy division, most perpetrators are those who are closest to the child – like a teacher, family friend, or even a parent. Also, Deputy Superintendent Tan from the PDRM adds that we tend to have the idea that children may not know what they’re talking about, or are “imagining things” and are less likely to believe them.
“When we conduct a training session, we train the adults first. Always. … Children know if they like or don’t like something. The problem is the adults… so please, trust the children” – Protect and Save the Children.
Another problem is our malu culture – that certain words like “penis” and “vagina”or topics like rape or sex are considered shameful. Protect and Save the Children says this culture needs to be broken because it breaks down the communication between a child and a parent (or adult). If a child has the idea that certain words or body parts are “shameful” they may keep quiet or use substitute words that adults may not understand.
“Parents can either understand the private language their children use for private parts or, for older children, teach them that it’s fine to use proper medical language like “penis” rather than “burung”” – Protect and Save the Children.
Even worse, some might even go as far as to blame the victim:
Parenting ain’t easy, and it’s really hard for us to condense such a wide topic into one section. You can read more in our other article, or contact organizations like Protect and Save the Children on how you can enroll your child (and yourself!) for training in personal safety.
But if at this point (which was also brought up during the screening) you’re wondering what the government is doing to combat this problem, well….
The truth is, we need both the public and the government to work together
In the opening speech by Datin Che Nariza of Protect and Save the Children, an average of 3,000 children are abused every year, more than half of them sexually. A quick Google search shows that their numbers don’t stray too far, with 2,111 cases in 2013 and 1,936 in 2014. However, it should be noted that these are REPORTED cases, so considering how only 2 out of 10 cases get reported in Malaysia, well… you do the math.
According to Dr. Watichalla, the government is looking into several changes to laws to enable things such as:
- Child Protectors – Public volunteers who are screened, trained, and given minimal power to save an abused child and bring them to the Ministry of Social Welfare.
- Registration of child sex offenders – And business or organization involving children can check if a potential employee has previously been involved in crimes against children.
DSP Tan also mentioned that a common problem is that people tend to viralize an issue on social media before reporting it to the police. The problem is that the people involved get tipped off as well, so by the time the police get wind of it and start investigating, everything’s gone.
So while it’s pretty easy to say “All this happen becos the gomen useless mah,” it might also be a really good idea for us to ask ourselves what WE can do as parents, religious leaders, or even just the person sitting in the cinema watching an adult singing creepy nursery rhymes to a child. So whether it’s taking the time to talk to your kids about
the birds and the bees sex, keeping a lookout for warning signs, or even reevaluating your own views on this subject; just remember that it only needs one adult to break the cycle of abuse.
“If you don’t teach your kids about sex and private space, somebody else will.” – DSP Tan, PDRM.