A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil, Jakarta – Messages and videos of alleged child kidnappers in action have recently spread like wildfire on social media and chat groups, stoking alarm among parents despite reports confirming that the so-called abductions were fake.
Ria Anggraeni, a 24-year-old housewife in North Jakarta, said the messages still unsettled her and had made her more protective of her 4-year-old son.
"Yes, that worried me. That's why every time my son goes out, I always watch over him," Ria told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
She said she made sure that her son played only around the house or at her neighbors, who are also her in-laws.
Ria added that she had received a warning message on WhatsApp and seen the video of an alleged kidnapping on Facebook, but had refrained from sharing them because she knew that they may not be authentic.
"They're a bit annoying but frightening at the same time. But on the bright side, they reminded parents to be extra careful watching over our children," she said, urging others to confirm the validity of any piece of information they come across on social media before sharing it.
Similar concerns were voiced by Syahrul, 35, an employee of a private company and resident of Penjaringan, North Jakarta. Like many parents, he said he frequently received message blasts and videos through WhatsApp or Instagram warning him against kidnappers.
One of them came in the form of an announcement claiming that child kidnapping cases in Greater Jakarta were on the rise. It even offered tips on how to prevent an abduction.
Other messages he has received include an amateur video of alleged kidnappers being dragged and beaten by residents and supposed CCTV footage of children being snatched off the streets.
One 48-second video that has been making the rounds on social media and WhatsApp chat groups shows a woman who looks to be kidnapping a child in Kedaung, South Tangerang, Banten.
However, the police, through Twitter account @DivHumas_Polri clarified that the video was not of a kidnapping, but a burglar taking a child hostage in Jambi some 10 years ago.
Syahrul, a father of a 7-year-old boy said he did not believe the messages he had received about alleged abductions, but conceded that some had been convincing enough for him to share on social media. "Nowadays, with social media people want to know more [and help spread such information easily]," he said.
Data from the Association of Indonesian Internet Providers (APJII) shows that in 2017, out of Indonesia's population of 262 million, 143,26 million had access to the internet.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said the police had yet to uncover any cases of child kidnapping recently.
He also warned citizens not to instantly believe messages or videos of abductions they found on social media. "Some of [the videos] spread around on social media are of old cases from outside Jakarta," Argo told the Post on Tuesday.
He said that such broadcasts were made to stoke fear among people, especially parents. "If you see a video or read about something, you should check the date and the year," he said, adding that residents should refrain from sharing any information they receive before checking its validity.