The Recent Rise in Alleged Child Abduction and Mass Hysteria

Singapore is now a haven for child abductions?
Singapore is now a haven for child abductions?

Mass hysteria is a form of groupthink, in which several people with something in common begin to think in the same way. In mass hysteria, the group members all develop a common fear that often spirals into a panic. The group members feed off each other’s emotional reactions, causing the panic to escalate.

As a father of a baby son, I am naturally concerned when there seem to be a recent spike in alleged child abduction sightings in Singapore. Nonetheless, I am sceptical on how true these allegations are and am more inclined to believe they are the results of mass hysteria.

Why?

1. Singapore law is extremely harsh on kidnappers. Kidnapping is classified as a capital offense in Singapore, punishable by the death penalty. It would be extremely stupid for criminals to commit kidnapping for monetary gain when their lives can be at stake if they are caught.

2. Many of the alleged sightings are in HDB estates like Tampines and Ang Mo Kio, involving random children. This do not make sense from a criminal perspective – if one was willing to put his or her life at risk to commit kidnapping, why not go for children of parents who can pay higher ransom? Naturally, the target should be from more prime real estates like Bukit Timah and Holland Village.

3. Many of the alleged kidnappers were described as of China nationality. Many Singaporeans harbour a strong air of suspicion against China residents in Singapore, due to some of our government policies over the past few years which seem to favour foreigners over locals. The suspicion could have been irrationally channeled to hatred and a willingness to attribute negativity like crime to the China residents here.

4. Similar kidnapping rumours have been circulating in Hong Kong as early as in September 2005, during the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland. Even till today, the theme attraction continues to be plagued with unsubstantiated stories of child abduction by China nationals. In June 2011, a Singaporean couple alleged their daughter was “almost kidnapped” by two female China nationals at Hong Kong Disneyland. The claim was unverified and unsubstantiated. It could be the catalyst in “importing” such alleged child abduction into Singapore.

What then, should Singapore parents do?

Stay calm, don’t panic.

If you are a responsible parent, you would have taught your child not to accept gifts from strangers or follow them to unfamiliar places. You would also have taken the necessary precautions to safe-guard his movements and daily routines.

If these measures are in place, one need not be overly concerned. Just keep up the good work you are doing as a parent.

Having said that, I think our relevant authorities like the Singapore Police Force and the Ministry of Home Affairs should do something to address this growing hysteria though.

Act fast, pick the thorn out of the flesh before the wound gets too big for any medication.

If there is truth in the allegations, take actions. If they are unfound rumours, engage the public and advise everyone against rumour-mongering.

Do you remember the mass hysteria over the many alleged Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) in the 80s?

Satanic ritual abuse, sometimes known as ritual abuse, ritualistic abuse, organised abuse, sadistic ritual abuse and other variants, refers to a moral panic that originated in the United States in the 1980s, spreading throughout the country and eventually to many parts of the world, before subsiding in the late 1990s. Allegations of SRA involved reports of physical and sexual abuse of individuals in the context of occult or Satanic rituals. At its most extreme definition, SRA involved a worldwide conspiracy involving the wealthy and powerful of the world elite in which children were abducted or bred for sacrifices, pornography and prostitution.

This many sound really far-fetched, but many people were scare stiff by SRA rumours in the 80s.

Going back even further into Singapore’s history, have you heard of the term “Koro”?

Koro is a culture-specific syndrome from Southeast Asia in which the person has an overpowering belief that his penis (or other genitalia) is shrinking and will shortly disappear. Also known as shrinking penis, the syndrome is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

A koro epidemic struck Singapore in October 1967 for about ten days. Newspapers initially reported that some people developed koro after eating the meat of pigs inoculated with anti-swine-flu vaccine. Rumours relating eating pork and koro spread after a further report of an inoculated pig dying from penile retraction. The cases reported amounted to 97 in a single hospital unit within one day, at five days after the original news report. Government and medical officials alleviated the outbreak only by public announcements over television and in the newspapers.

Koro sounds really stupid now isn’t it? Yet in the 60s, many Singaporeans believe in it!

I hope this child abduction thing do not develop into another wikipedia entry on examples of mass hysteria like SRA and Koro.

Fellow Singaporeans and fellow parents; again, stay calm, don’t panic! Don’t spread the fear until the abduction rumours are substantiated.

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8 thoughts on “The Recent Rise in Alleged Child Abduction and Mass Hysteria”

  1. I do understand that many of these claims are false, started by people with no connection to anything. However, sexual predators (who have nothing to do with satanic worship) will kidnap kids, and not for money. They usually target low income area because they will garner less press than the child of a wealthy, prestigious, or celebrity family. Sexual predators come from every race, religion, country and financial background. I hope there is not a growing trend of child abduction as safety is one of Singapores best qualities.

  2. Few comments to your following pointers : –

    1) SG has death penalties for drugs too. That does not deter or stop people from drugs peddling.
    Same in China. And China’s child abductions are a persistent and serious crimes, these are not rumors, and in fact, widely reported.

    2) Like above reader Paula said, kidnapping or abductions does not apply ONLY to wealthy targets. Syndicates do abduct children/teenagers/adults for sales into prostitution or beggars rings. These human trafficking comes in many shapes and forms.

    3) Agree this could be partially true; people redirecting their fear or hatred towards a particular group. However, there are reasons for such connections, as highlighted, is a very common social ills in China of late. Many caught abductors confessed to doing so due to loss of money in gambling addictions, and with desperation, they commit such crimes for syndicates. It doesn’t take a rocket scientists to see around singapore that many of these international gamblers have a certain profile.

    4) It didn’t start from HKG, but most recent cases perhaps. I believe there have been many reported incidents around our neighborly regions if you pay enough attention. From Australia to Indonesia to Shenzhen to Hong Kong etc.- seems to be rising trends. In fact, even Sweden’s kindergartens has given out some gps tracking kits to tag their children for safety purposes.

    The Koro & Santanic rituals cases you mentioned were true, but are different & cult in nature, thus not good comparisons. Children abductions are more mainstream and are real social ills if not curbed or paid attention. With Casinos, comes vice rings and syndicates, loansharking or prostitution activities, money laundering etc..that are associated with it.

    Yes, we as parents should be be panic and hysteria, but alert always. SPF should be prompt to address and either confirm or deny them for public assurances.

  3. hi Bishan,

    1) You’re correct about there still being drug pushers and traffickers despite the death penalty. China however is a continent sized countries, with huge swathes of the country being overseen by party appatarchiks who aren’t that removed from criminals themselves. Also, a stolen good, whether human or not is no good if you can’t fence it. China, with it’s hinterland begging for child labour and wives has a ready fencing ground and demand. The same crime in Singapore will require smuggling them across international borders to the willing buyers. Spawn of the average HDB dweller simply doesn’t generate enough profit to justify the risk and complication.

    2) Now this is a valid concern, and we’ve already have enough cases of children being sexually abused by said perverts. However, quite a number of said criminals are sadly, people known to the victim and in a position of authority while the rumours described couples or solo actors of a supposed foreign origin. Which makes no sense since it assumes a sexual predator will want to operate in a place where he is unfamiliar with the local norms and will stand out. While not impossible, it does make a rather atypical scenario

    3) Again China. My first part addresses how child abduction would be easier with local conditions making a payout less complicated.

    The SPF responded with a public statement in less than a week since the first story appeared online and that was a valid police report made. All things considered, they seem rather fast.

  4. Parents Keep an eye on yr children. Dun let them go out of sight.
    Remember the 2 boys that went missing ? aka “Mcdonalds boys” . til now SPF has no idea what happen to them.

  5. Better be safe than never (but not to extent of spreading rumour)…remember the freak 50-yrs event, anything can happen

    Anyway…most of the child kidnapping in China are not for ransom…

  6. Excellent article! The bigger retards are those who recklessly spread such rumours. Almost like spreading bomb hoaxes. The smaller retards are those who stupidly believe such rumours.

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