KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — The battle against child sex offenders faces a major stumbling block with the Child Registry — the database of the names of child sex offenders and their crimes — not being fully utilised by employers providing child related services.
Despite the availability of the registry since January, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said many employers were still ill-informed about the database, or did not see the importance of utilising the registry.
“Limited advocacy and awareness of the programme has left many (employers) uninformed,” Rohani told Malay Mail.
“Another reason could be that some employers don’t see the importance behind conducting checks on potential employees before hiring them.“To address this issue, the ministry is implementing advocacy programmes nationwide.”
The ministry introduced the registry of convicted child offenders in February to help employers run a background check on their potential workers.
Rohani was reported as saying in February the registry contained the names of some 120 convicted offenders. To obtain the information, employers could write in full confidence to the ministry which would respond to them in the shortest possible time.
She was also quoted as saying the registry could be proactively utilised in ensuring the safety of children for employers who want to hire people as school bus drivers, child care centre minders or even school guards.
In August, she revealed the ministry had only received three applications from employers to screen potential workers.
Meanwhile, Rohani said the three-month duration to conduct such checks was only an estimated time to ensure a reasonable period was given to process queries.
“It takes some time because besides checking the registry, cross-checking is also done with the courts and the police,” she said.
“We have to ensure that the response we give to employers is accurate as we do not want to defame any parties.”
Rohani said it is important for parents and employers to know the latest amendments in the Child Act (Amendment) 2016.
“Following amendments to the act, the registry has been improved to include information of individuals who should never be allowed work in any organisation related to children, including those pertaining to child offender registry, community service order, family-based care and heavier penalty,” she said.
“The amendments were necessary to improve the act to include current issues related to paedophilia.”