Dubai A new study into child abuse in the UAE has found 42 per cent of children suffer neglect while over 25 per cent are victims of violence at home.
The findings are a result of comprehensive research carried out by Dr Ahmad Falah Al Omosh, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Sharjah.
We need to educate families about the dangers of neglect. If we can get the number of neglect abuse cases down, it is expected the number of physical abuse cases will go down too
Tragically one child recounted how she feels she was “born to be beaten”.
While 3.1 per cent revealed they had been victims of sexual abuse, 17.6 per cent said they had been exposed to pornographic movies.
Dr Omosh told Gulf News: “The next step is to do a bigger follow-up study focusing on the abuse of neglect as it is the biggest issue, with the highest numbers.
”We need to educate families about the dangers of neglect.”
“If we can get the number of neglect abuse cases down, it is expected the number of physical abuse cases will go down too.”
Dr Omosh aims to raise awareness on the issue across the UAE so that steps can be taken to prevent such abuse.
The study investigated children’s perceptions of violence in society and the types of violence children experience, be it physical, sexual, emotional or neglect.
They gave 193 seventh grade students from across Sharjah’s public schools a questionnaire to complete with responses coming from 66 males and 127 females. The average age of children, all Emirati, participating in the study was between 12 and 13.
During interviews, 39.9 per cent interviewed revealed they are regularly threatened, 21 per cent said their hair is pulled and 3.1 per cent said they are beaten with a hard object — these acts of violence were in response to children misbehaving.
One per cent of children said they are slapped, 9.8 per cent spoke of regular verbal abuse while 4.7 per cent are locked up in their rooms. Meanwhile, 10.5 per cent claim they were beaten with a hard object for returning home late.
The study also found that within a family, 36.3 per cent believe the father is the most common abuser, 20.2 per cent indicate the brother and 14 per cent feel the mother is the main source of abuse.
Some 22.3 per cent of children also said they had witnessed sexual abuse in their neighbourhoods and 10.9 per cent in school.
Dr Omosh said: “The figures for sexual abuse are there, but they are not alarming in comparison to other countries, as there is always a percentage of sexual abuse.”
The academic has now called for a similar study across Arab countries to study the trend of violence against children.