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Dubai schools more alert to suspected cases of child abuse

Educational institutions seek more awareness since UAE Child Protection Law launched

Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News
From left: Hessa Tahlak, Abdullah Bin Sougat, Maha Al Muneef and Afra Al Basti at a press conference held in Dubai yesterday to announce the 5th Arab Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect that will be held in Dubai for the first time on November 19-22.
Gulf News

Dubai: The latest Child Protection Law has created greater awareness among schools in reporting suspected cases of child abuse, a senior official said on Monday.

Afra Al Basti, Director-General of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) said schools are also seeking more awareness from the foundation since the Child Protection Law took effect in June 2016.

Her remarks came during a conference announcing details of the 5th Arab Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, which will be held in Dubai for the first time in November 19-22.

Al Basti pointed out that the most prevalent form of Child Abuse cases the foundation has received were to do with physical and verbal abuse followed by sexual abuse, with the most cases of physical abuse happening in schools between peers.

Since the new law makes it mandatory for those who witness abuse to report it, Al Basti said this has encouraged the community to take the extra step of seeking guidance from the foundation.

“We have seen more awareness in the community as more schools have been coming forward [since the law was implemented]. Some cases of physical abuse were reported directly by the school and our counsellors stepped in to help these children,” she said.

“Schools have also been requesting us to hold more awareness workshops so that children can identify abuse and report it. We have adopted specific methods to train students, parents, teachers and social workers,” she said, noting that they are also working on improving community knowledge of the Child Protection Law.

More than 400 experts in child protection are expected to attend the 5th Arab Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect at Roda Al Bustan Hotel under the theme “From Legislation to Implementation”.

The conference, in cooperation with The Arab Society for Prevention Child Abuse and Neglect and the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC), will shed light on the latest developments in child protection and the mechanisms to implement the laws, the organising committee said.

Abdullah Bin Sougat, Member of the Board of Directors, DFWAC, and chairman of the organising committee, said local and international experts will exchange their experiences in combating child abuse in terms of legislation and enforcement mechanisms, care, protection and rehabilitation services.

“Child protection efforts have developed significantly in Arab countries, but there could be gaps in their application. The conference will shed light on this to develop mechanisms and strategies to implement laws,” said Dr Maha Al Muneef, Chairperson of Arab-SPCAN

The event, she said, will include keynote speeches by representatives from WHO, UNICEF and other international organisations and also plenary sessions, seminars, and skill-building workshops.

“Around 200 scientific research papers on child abuse and neglect have been submitted and will be presented and discussed at the conference,” she said.

Hessa Tahlak, Consultant in the Ministry of Community Development, said the ministry will also highlight the efforts and legislation of child protection and care in the UAE.

“This conference will be an opportunity to showcase the efforts in the UAE and will allow us to benefit from other benchmarks in the world,” she said.

Main themes of the conference:

Child protection legislations and procedures

Best practices for child protection in Arab Region

Interventions in child maltreatment

Training and capacity-building programmes

Data collection and research in the field of child maltreatment

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