The UAE is a very safe country, especially for children. It has very strong laws when it comes to child safety and child abuse.
Reporting Child Abuse
You can report child abuse to the Ministry of Interior through the hotline number 116111 or through the Ministry of Interior’s Child Protection Centre's website http://www.moi-cpc.ae/en/Report.Abuse.aspx and the 'Hemayati' (Arabic for protect me) app (available on both Android and iOS).
You can also call the following numbers:
• EWAA Shelter for Women and Children on hotline number 8007283
• Dubai Foundation for Women and Children on 800111
• Child protection centre in Sharjah on toll-free helpline number 800 700.
• Hemaya Foundation for Children and Women - Ajman on hotline 800himaya (800446292)
• Aman Centre for Women and Children through RAK Police on 07-2356666
The UAE is keen to protect children against all forms of violence. It gives top priority to children's care and development. At the federal level, the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Community Development undertake protection of children.
Social Care and Minors Affairs Foundation in Abu Dhabi and Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation in Dubai support the federal entities in ensuring the well-being of minors.
The UAE has initiated Child Rights Law also called Wadeema's Law and several regulations and initiatives to support this. This law came about after the death of an Emirati girl named Wadeema following extreme torture by her father and his girlfriend. It was a case that shocked the nation.
So, what is Wadeema’s Law?
Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 concerning child rights, also known as Wadeema's Law, stresses that all children must be provided with appropriate living standards, access to health services, education, equal opportunities in essential services and facilities without any kind of discrimination.
The law protects children against all forms of negligence, exploitation, physical and psychological abuses.
In addition, smoking in public and private vehicles and indoor facilities where children are present is also prohibited under the law. Violators will be subject to penalties as set out by the law.
The law allows childcare specialists to remove children from their homes against parents' wishes and without judicial permission in cases of imminent danger.
In less severe cases, specialists may intervene by visiting the child regularly, providing social services and mediating a solution between the family and the child.
Those who put children in danger, abandon them, neglect them, leave them without supervision, do not enroll them in school or register them upon their birth will be subject to a prison sentence or a fine or both. The law applies to all children up to the age of 18.
Child protection committee and centre
Ministry of Interior (MoI) established the Higher Committee for Child Protection in 2009 and the MoI’s Child Protection Centre in 2011 to undertake the role of developing, implementing and customising the initiatives and processes aiming at providing safety, security and protection for all children living in the UAE or even those coming as visitors. The committee plays a key role in maintaining the safety of children.
Child Safety in Education
Ministry of Education (MoE) launched a ‘Child Protection Unit’ initiative for the benefit of students of government and private schools across the UAE.
The initiative is aimed at protecting children from all forms of harm, negligence and abuse, which they may experience at school or home and maintaining their safety with regard to their physical, psychological and educational aspects.
To report child abuse case, call either the MoE’s Child Protection Unit on their dedicated number 04-217666 or the Ministry of Interior’s Child Protection Centre on 116111 or email the report to CPU@moe.gov.ae with supporting documents, if any.
Schoolchildren can use the hotline number 80051115 to communicate directly with Ministry of Education regarding any issue that may affect their learning process. Education specialists supervise the hotline.
Teachers’ code of conduct
Ministry of Education is working on a new code of conduct and ethics for teachers. It will outline teachers' obligations and rights in both public and private schools adopting the ministry's curriculum. The code complements the behavioural regulations, which the ministry has issued for teachers.
The UAE’s Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood in cooperation with Unicef (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), Ministry of Education and Department of Education and Knowledge in Abu Dhabi launched the guide for parents on anti-bullying. This guide will help parents identify if their child is a victim of bullying, or if he is bullying others and what can be done to stop it.
As per the statistics published on the website of Ministry of Community Development, the number of nurseries in the UAE in 2014 was 497; they had 35,552 children registered.
After the restructuring of the federal government in early 2016, licensing nurseries lies with Ministry of Education. The childcare provider should be licensed to function so in accordance with the prevailing laws. A number of procedures and legislations are adopted to ensure the highest quality of nurseries, provided they are equipped in a manner that produces a pleasant setting satisfying the needs of children and stimulating their physical, intellectual, emotional and social development.
In addition, the childcare building should be a safe and healthy setting that comprises ample indoor and outdoor areas proportional to the number and ages of children. The provider must ensure safety and security against risks both indoor and outdoor and that all staff are fully aware of the safety and security requirements and procedures.
Children's health and nutrition are other aspects that the provider should maintain by taking all necessary precautions to prevent contamination and the spread of diseases, with appropriate measures for dealing with injuries and sick children.
Nurseries in public offices
Many new mothers with government jobs are required to return to work when their children are as young as six weeks old, prompting many to resign or take long-term leave.
In 2006, the UAE Cabinet addressed this issue by ordering all federal and local government departments with more than 50 women Emirati staff or where the women Emirati staff collectively have more than 20 children, to offer on-site nurseries.
The directive to establish on-site nurseries aims to support working women and lead them to be more productive by providing them the comfort of having their children in a facility close by which is safe and offers a nurturing environment.
Education for Emiratis is free in public schools, colleges and universities. Article 17 of the UAE's Constitution and Article 1 of Federal Law No. 11 of 1972 concerning Compulsory Education provide that education is compulsory at primary stages and free of charge at all stages for citizens in the UAE.
Aiming to bring the compulsory school-leaving age more in line with many other advanced countries across the world, the UAE Cabinet approved a new law in July 2012. This law makes it compulsory for Emirati children to start schooling at the age of 6 and remain in school until they have completed Grade 12 or reach the age of 18, whichever occurs first.