The National Police yesterday attempted to quell fears spreading amongst parents as rising numbers of Facebook posts and local news reports about kidnappings continue to be published.
In response to the spike in Facebook posts, the Interior Ministry two weeks ago created two hotlines for tips to police in order to quicken response times to kidnappings.
However, national deputy police chief Kirth Chantharith said yesterday that not all of the Facebook posts and local news reports are accurate.
“Based on our preliminary assessments, there could be a group of people that are attempting to cause chaos by creating false information about kidnappings to spread fear among the public,” he said.
Mr Chantharith did not elaborate, but added that provincial police offices have been ordered to investigate all social media posts nonetheless.
“If the information is true, it is necessary to take urgent action to find and punish the perpetrators and return the victims to their families,” he said. “If it is false, police also have to find the people who caused the problem to be punished by the law. If it is not true, people should not be posting it because it causes problems in society when fake information like this is shared.”
Since the creation of the hotlines, police have handled only one real case, arresting the perpetrator in a sting operation in Kampong Chhnang province last week.
But Mr Chantharith’s concern that fear is spreading amongst parents is already being played out.
Say Sodany, a vendor at Thnal Bot Market along National Road 3 in Kompong Speu province, said she now worries about her children riding their bikes to school.
“I am nervous and I almost stopped allowing my children from riding their bikes to school even though the school is nearby,” she said. “No matter how smart the children are, if older people comfort them, then the children will follow them.”
Sok Sophorn, who lives in Chbar Ampov district, said she has seen many posts on Facebook about missing children.
“I am scared,” she said. “I’m afraid that when my children are not within sight, someone might give them something to eat and kidnap them.”
“I deflated the tyres on their bicycles so they cannot ride them any more because when they do, they go too far away from the home,” she added.