child abuse
According to the Child and Family Protection Centre, neglect at home and in the hands of the family can have a negative impact on children. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Sharjah: The Child and Family Protection Centre in the Department of Social Services in Sharjah received 1,449 reports through its hotline during the last quarter of 2022.

Of the calls, family disputes topped the list of grievances, followed by 785 legal matters and 18 electronic extortion reports.

Kholoud Al Ali, Director of the Child and Family Protection Centre, said the numbers registered a slight increase compared to previous years, probably because electronic crimes have been included among issues related to children. This has resulted in the department receiving calls from schools and parents, and sometimes from children themselves, regarding e-crimes.

Al Ali explained that the voice recording service made it possible for children to submit reports with quick access and ease of use, as they record voice messages and send them to the centre to obtain help and secure their rights and seek protection from a family problem, or report being exposed to violence, exploitation or exposure to electronic blackmail.

Al Ali said, “We are keen to provide all means of awareness of children’s rights to the young and old alike through specialised programmes and determining the appropriate mechanism for every age group so that information about the law is duly comprehended.”

She said many times parents are responsible for their children’s behaviour being negatively affected. Neglect at home and in the hands of the family can have a negative impact on children, he said, adding, parental disputes also push children to look to other people to talk to and take refuge in. Such children also become vulnerable to being exploited by strangers.

She said parents have a non-negotiable responsibility in ensuring the safety of their children, with unswerving supervision and open communication. Al Ali said, “We receive reports of children who are exposed to danger, abuse or violence and we respond to them after classifying them and determining the seriousness of the situation, the degree of urgency and the required therapeutic or preventive intervention.”

Services are also aimed at enhancing the protection of children’s rights in the legal clinic at the centre through the implementation of the main objectives, which include assessing and diagnosing the legal situation of the child, identifying lost or violated rights, developing an insurance mechanism, providing legal advice and guidance for cases, legal representation for the child with competent authorities, providing legal awareness to employees or the public, in addition to the responsibilities of the social clinic at the centre, which aims to ensure a safe and stable environment for the child through proactive preventive services.

The centre conducts a social study of every case, assessing the rights enjoyed by the child and developing and implementing individual plans for the child’s reformation. Periodic evaluation and control measures are also drawn up with groups at risk being identified.

Rehabilitation and treatment programmes are taken up by the Ishraqa clinic, which looks into psychological matters of abused children and provides specialised services through the application of relevant tests and treatment protocols.