Schools responsible for reporting abuse
Dubai Police handled 26 child abuse cases in the first nine months of 2015, an increase from 21 in 2014.
Brigadier Mohammad Al Murr, Director of Dubai Police’s Human Rights Department, said that physical and psychological abuse of children is not a phenomenon in the UAE, but it is a serious issue although the numbers are low.
Dubai police stations received 37 reports of child abuse in the first nine months of this year, as opposed to 54 reports in 2014. The police took action on 26 out of 37 reported cases.
“We should take precautions and raise awareness so it does not become a widespread phenomenon,” he said during the launch of an awareness campaign on the issue.
The campaign, which was launched on November 25, will continue for four months and will target schoolchildren aged 4-14, parents, and educators.
The plan for the campaign will include holding awareness events at schools as well as at parents’ workplaces, the use of social media and SMS to send awareness messages.
These activities will be done in coordination with 25 schools who partnered with Dubai Police for this campaign.
Moza Al Shoumi, Director of the Children’s Department at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said that schools play a great role in identifying cases of child abuse.
“A child spends most of his day at home or at school, making it their second home. Educators should contact the authorities if they suspect a child is being physically or verbally abused or is suffering from neglect,” she said.
She said doctors are also obliged to report abuse cases.
Moza said that schools should also ask if a child does not show up for school for long periods of time.
“If a child is absent for a week, for example, the school should ask why. There are cases where parents do not send their abused children to school so people do not see the bruises or marks from beatings,” she explained.
She added that not sending a child to school is a form of abuse, because they are denying them their right to study, which is protected by law.
“Also, parents take using bad language with their children lightly, although it could cause serious psychological trauma for the child. There is no way to know how many children are being emotionally and psychologically abused in this way,” she said.
Hamda Lootah, Headmistress of Dubai Modern Education School, said, “Educating parents plays a big part in raising awareness. We had a case where a child was being beaten by his parents because he was hyperactive.”
She said the parents thought the child was doing this on purpose, but the school explained the child has a condition that makes him this way, and beating him just makes it worse.