Many studies have shown that actively listening to children is one of the most protective factors against dangerous behaviours, most notably bullying, substance abuse, and violence. Image Credit: Twitter

Abu Dhabi: The Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi (DCD) has launched, in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), an awareness campaign entitled “Listen First”, which aims to increase awareness among community members in general and families in particular of the need to listen to children from early childhood to age 18 as post-adolescence.

Dr. Laila Al-Hayas

Dr. Laila Al-Hayas, Executive Director of the Monitoring and Innovation Sector at DCD, explained that the cooperation with the UNODC has led to launching this awareness campaign for the first time in the Arab region. “Individuals mainly learn the art of hearing and listening through the interactions that take place between family members, as family is the social environment or, so to say, “the first life school” which teaches its members the foundations of life, in addition to effective communication skills,” she said.

Many studies have shown that actively listening to children is one of the most protective factors against dangerous behaviours, most notably bullying, substance abuse, and violence. These studies emphasised the importance of parents listening in promoting the proper growth of children, refining their personalities, and enhancing their self-confidence, on how to nudge children to evade risky behaviours.

The first phase of the campaign includes the distribution of a set of educational publications, on the scientific fact sheets and educational videos display both cartoon figures and real life that portray children and caretakers. The publications also tackle the important role of parents in educating their children about the digital world and listening to their opinions, concerns and the challenges they face, in order to better protect them from online abuse and bullying.

Judge Hatem Aly

Judge Hatem Aly, Representative of UNODC for the Gulf Cooperation Council Region, commended the DCD for the launch of the “Listen First” campaign. “The campaign attests to the relentless commitment of the UAE authorities to investing in youth and communities at large to promote safe, resilient and sustainable societies. Children and youth empowerment is a key part of UNODC’s work towards preventing drug use and crime, and thanks to the collaboration with DCD we hope to expand this initiative to other countries in the region.”

Batting the drug menace
‘Listen First’ was launched in 2016 during the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. It is an initiative to increase support for prevention of drug use that is based on science and is thus an effective investment in the well-being of children and youth, their families and their communities. Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe.
Abdulrahman Sayed Al blooshi

Abdulrahman Sayed Al blooshi, Strategic Planning & Institutional Development Division Director of Family Development Foundation (FDF), said: “The family dialogue has been of great importance in understanding, protecting, and knowing children and their needs. Amid the rapid pace of development that the world has witnessed, societies have undergone significant changes, thus it has become crucial for families to pay more attention to their role in protecting the internal social structure.”

Engineer Thamer Rashid Al Qasimi

Engineer Thamer Rashid Al Qasimi, Executive Director, Special Projects & Outreach at Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, said: “As parents play an active role in developing the skills and capabilities of their children, it is necessary to promote communication and dialogue with them, especially in the early years of their lives. This helps parents build a sound relationship with their children based on trust, appreciation and better understanding of their emotional and mental needs.”