The threat of cybercrimes targeting children cannot be ignored, say Abu Dhabi and Dubai Police. Image Credit: Stock picture

Dubai: The threat of cybercrimes targeting children is on the rise, UAE authorities have warned afresh.

According to the Dubai and Abu Dhabi Police, these threats range from child exploitation and abuse to identity theft, cyber bullying and even exposure to harmful content.

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

Brigadier Saeed Al Hajri, Director of the Cybercrime Department at the General Department of Criminal Investigations at Dubai Police, said children, especially teenagers and those who are new to using the Internet, are the most vulnerable lot when it comes to cybercrimes. To address this challenge, Dubai Police has established a specialised department to combat child crimes proactively with Internet patrols. The department also coordinates with an international team, employing advanced monitoring programmes to detect cybercrimes.

Brigadier Saeed Al Hajri

He said a specialised section created within the Department of Electronic Investigations protects children through electronic patrols that monitor and arrest those involved in downloading or sharing dubious and pornographic content related to children. Even possessing, uploading or publishing this kind of content constitute a crime.

Abu Dhabi Police call for increased supervision


Abu Dhabi Police have also called on parents to increase supervision over children to protect them from blackmail and abuse through social networking sites and electronic games.

Through repeated warnings on its social media platforms, the force reminds parents to assume their responsibilities in duly monitoring their children. Among the instances highlighted is how criminals impersonate as girls on social media with the aim of luring teenage boys, establishing a relationship with them and then filming and blackmailing them with pictures, all for material gain, information, or other benefits.

Children, teenagers most common victims: Cyber security chief in UAE

Dr Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, Head of Cyber Security in the UAE Government, told Gulf News: “It is well-known that children and teenagers are the most common victims of crime through electronic means and social media. Society can provide protection for children and adolescents through several methods, including continuous awareness of what electronic blackmail is, providing psychological support to child victims and encouraging them to inform any such threats to their families and/or the competent authorities immediately.”

Dr. Mohamed Al Kuwaiti

Dr. Al Kuwaiti said, “Parents must communicate continuously with their children to build bridges of trust between them, and talk to them about the dangers associated with electronic blackmail and how to prevent it. They should be encouraged to seek help when needed.”

He said advances in the field of information transfer and exchange technologies can also contribute to protecting children from cybercriminals. Examples include parental control applications, anti-virus and malware programmes and GPS tracking applications. Many families also employ tools like Microsoft Family, Apple Screen Time and Google Family Link to protect children, he added.

Stages of blackmail

According to lawyer Dr. Fatima Al Neyadi from the Capital Office for Law and Legal Consultations, “Children and teenagers who are under the age of 18 are considered tempting targets for unknown criminals lurking behind social media platforms and sites. Based on this fact, knowing ways to protect blackmailing teenagers has become necessary in a world where digital communication and reliance on technology is increasing daily. The problem with children is that they flee from confrontation and do not disclose the crime to which they are exposed for fear of being punished by parents.”

Dr. Fatima Al Neyadi

She said, “The dangers of the Internet to children are diverse, and include luring and photography, threats and blackmail and electronic bullying. Hence the importance of monitoring which is the responsibility of parents.”

She said the process of electronic threats and blackmailing of teenagers goes through the following stages: Establishing a relationship between the electronic blackmailer and the targeted child; developing communication, registration and collection of offensive content; and issuing the actual threat and blackmail.”

The demands made by the criminals include financial payments or provision other services, contrary to public morals, honour and human dignity.

What the UAE law says

The Cybercrime Law in the UAE says perpetrators of cybercrime can be penalised with imprisonment and a fine of Dh250,000 under Article 16.

Aman service

Abu Dhabi Police said the Aman service is a security communication channel allows community members to contribute in preventing crimes. They can contact toll-free number 8002626 (AMAN2626) or message 2828 or email