Abu Dhabi: Suicide and other forms of child abuse, which exist in Europe and the Americas, are also dangerously present in the UAE, an official revealed on Tuesday at the Child Rights one-day conference being held here.
“The assumption that these problems exist only in the West is very wrong. We must acknowledge that we suffer similar tragedies here in the UAE, and must deal with these issues immediately,” announced Dr. Hoda Al Suwaidi, director of the Elderly Division at the Society Development Foundation in Dubai.
According to statistics by Dubai Police, 102 cases of domestic violence were recorded in 2010 compared to 70 in 2009.
A study carried out by Dubai Foundation for Women and Children on children in general whether Emiratis or expatriates, below 18 years of age, in Dubai revealed that 65 children were subject to abuse in 2010 out of whom 31 needed a new home.
Additionally, 135 cases of domestic violence towards children were recorded, as well as eight cases of children trafficking. 15 per cent of the abuse cases were physical, while 27 per cent were domestic violence, 24 per cent were emotional and verbal abuse, 30 per cent were negligence and four per cent were victims of sexual abuse.
The study revealed that the number of children who were victims of sexual abuse increased from 28 cases in 2009 to 33 in 2010 while number of sexual abuse criminals increased from 27 culprits in 2010 to 51 in 2011.
According to the study, 15.5 per cent of children were seriously suicidal, out of whom 16.3 per cent were females and 14.2 were males.
Al Suwaidi highlighted that juvenile crimes have also increased, where 46.6 per cent of children were involved in one or more juvenile confrontations during the past 12 months while 22.8 per cent were bullied.
The study revealed that parental negligence, lack of safety precautions, the impact of watching violent movies, non-supervised swimming pool, whether at homes or clubs, were among the factors leading to children’s accidents that decreased from 30 incidents in 2009 to 26 in 2010 and to 14 in 2011.
The study also showed that certain categories of children need particular attention; this includes 3.100 orphans and minors, 90 cases of children having one unknown parent, and 20 with both parents unknown. Additionally, every six females — mothers, prisoners and their children are sharing a room that actually has space for only two prisoners and their children.
Al Suwaidi added that factors impacting children safety include lack of security authorities monitoring housemaids and helping labour at homes, the increase of non-married labourers, lack of awareness regarding school transportation system, the frequent use of mobile phone and internet among children, lack of sense of communal responsibility, absence of father, mother pressured to work and being absent too, violence at school, differences in interpreting child abuse due to cultural diversity, absence of nurseries at the mother’s workplace, in addition to non-qualified staff at nurseries in general.
Colonel Faisal Al Shamari, Head of the Child Protection Center at the Ministry of Interior warned parents from giving children laptops and i-pads with cameras.
“According to statistics worldwide one out five children faces online abuse threat and 53 per cent of school children in Abu Dhabi face online sexual abuse. Most of pornographic pictures of Arab children are self-produced by the children themselves,” he said.
Al Shamari shared some of the points that will be included in the future Child Law that will include a comprehensive database, sex offenders’ register, a programme to monitor sexual predators and a programme that explains how to investigate juvenile crimes. A suggestion to include a distance judgment of criminals has been presented too.
Al Shamari called on adopting a law undertaken in Louisiana at the United States requesting social network users to include their criminal records in their profiles.