Abu Dhabi: students Call for strong child protection law

June 11, 2013 | By More

June 10, AP – According to a group of freshmen students at the Abu Dhabi University, child abuse is a reality at home and often committed by the very same individuals children look up to for protection.

human rights observers - Abu Dhabi students call for strong child protection law intl. news1

Students in the Capital are calling for a more stringent child protection law, mandatory reporting of child abuse and the establishment of support centres to educate and counsel family members about the negative consequences of this act.

“This problem is spreading in our country and society, but everyone is afraid to talk about it,” stated one student Manal Ahmad Hassan.

“Many people believe that the UAE doesn’t suffer from this problem. Well, I am sad to say that they are wrong because we have many cases of child abuse … others are not even reported. Therefore, we wanted to wake people up in order to solve child abuse and wanted to be a part in solving it, too,” Hassan told Khaleej Times.

In the first national survey on child abuse against UAE children, carried out by the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children and released in February this year, emotional and verbal abuse of children at home rank first among the forms of violence and abuse against them. These include howling insults, screaming in the youngster’s faces in a violent and scary way, and humiliating them in front of others. Witnessing violence at home, neglect and physical abuse are also prevalent in the results.

The survey was participated by 2,939 Emirati students in public schools between the ages of 10 and 18 across the emirates during the 2011-2012 academic year. In their endeavour to expose the depth of the problem here and find solutions, Hassan, together with four of her peers, wrote an inquiry paper on ‘Child Abuse in the UAE’.

In their paper, which focuses on parents’ culpability, the students cited “ignoring their needs, putting them in unsupervised and dangerous situations, or making them feel worthless and stupid” as types of child abuse.

They attributed these abusive behaviour to parents’ lack of education, knowledge and parenting skills; drugs and alcohol; disabilities/mental illness of children or parents; teenage parents who lack the patience to care for their kids; parents relieving their stress out (unemployment, pressure from work, illness, etc) on their children; and expectations that are not met. In order to curb these undesirable practices, the paper proposed implementing a law to punish parents who abuse their children. “This action will give an idea to the society on how serious this issue can be. At the same time, it will warn parents and keep them on the right track,” the pupils wrote.

Furthermore, “we need to have some strict laws about reporting child abuse, so it should be mandatory for all caregivers such as teachers, nurses and all healthcare professionals (as well as) laws to protect reporters, so they should not be prosecuted when they report the cases,” the report added, quoting Dr Ahmad Almai, consultant and head of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Division at the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City.

The students also called for the establishment of support centres that will teach parents how to care for their child and develop new parenting skills, such as learning to manage and control their emotions.

In addition, they are urging schools to hold counselling sessions to make students aware of the issue and help prevent abuse from occuring or continuing.

“This issue is considered one of the most dangerous problems that stand in the way of our bright future, for it is affecting the future generation. Therefore, some solutions and ways of prevention must be taken,” the students enjoined.

Associated press journalist for human rights observers – contributed to this report.

 

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Category: International

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