Dubai: A comprehensive new child protection policy that covers every aspect of a child’s life will come into effect early next year, a senior official from Community Development Authority (CDA) told Gulf News.
The policy, compiled by a special team from CDA, has already been approved by the Dubai Executive Council.
Complementing the new federal child protection law, which was approved by the cabinet last week, the policy ensures a child’s safety and protection is everybody’s responsibility, including parents, teachers, caretakers and all those who are connected with them in some way or the other.
The policy covers all children in Dubai and looks into their safety in the broadest sense of the word.
“The policy aims to protect all children in Dubai from all forms of violence, negligence, abuse and exploitation and to provide children living in particular conditions with extra assistance and support. It covers children who have extra needs but not limited to those in conflict with the law, living with disability, deprived of a family environment, or those who are dependent on substance abuse,” said Khaled Al Kamda, Director General of CDA, explaining the draft legislation.
He added that currently there is no dedicated policy that takes care of child safety, though there is an effort from all concerned entities to protect their rights and what the new regulations will try to do is to bring these efforts together.
“The policy recommends better coordination of current efforts and makes the best use of available resources to develop an integrated and comprehensive system that stresses prevention over intervention in all the places where children are cared for or frequent. It promotes the right of children to be protected within all segments of Dubai community and clarifies all the procedures to be in place to ensure support to families and children,” he added.
The policy intends to make sure there is zero tolerance for any kind of negligence, exploitation or abuse. That, Al Kamda believes, can be done through early identification of cases and timely reporting.
“Early identification of cases at risk of being harmed is very important and people concerned, like teachers or parents, will be made answerable if they fail to do so. We want to make sure people report and we are setting up a mechanism to respond to and intervene in the cases of harmed children,” he added.
Part of the responsive mechanism will be a dedicated hotline for reporting cases of abuse, negligence or any suspicious activities. A permanent team of 12 social workers has been set up, who will be on call 24/7 to assist in these cases.
Though prevention is the priority, firm dealing of the cases is not ignored.
“Mandatory reporting will be activated. Certain government agencies, in particular Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, in coordination with Dubai Police, will be dealing with all investigations, and referral. A thorough intervention plan will be put in place including rehabilitation, reintegration of the child in his/her environment and follow up to ensure the child is not at risk of being harmed again,” emphasised Al Kamda.
In order to make sure people are aware of their responsibilities CDA in association with other concerned authorities — Dubai Police and Dubai Foundation for Women and Children — is planning a massive campaign in the next few months.
The CDA campaign will cover everything from safety measures in houses and schools to practices on roads and cars.