The Ministry of Education (MoE) has launched a ‘Child Protection
Unit’ initiative, targeting the students of government and private schools across
the UAE. The initiative is aimed at protecting children from all forms of harm,
negligence and abuse that they may experience in the surrounding environment at
school or at home and maintaining the safety of students from the physical,
psychological or educational perspectives.
The initiative was launched concurrently with the celebration of the
‘International Children’s Day’ and the ‘Third National Bullying Prevention Week’,
which was organized by the MoE to monitor and respond to cases of bullying
among school students in all educational stages and came as part of the MoE’s
efforts to provide students with the best educational environment possible.
The launch of the unit is expected to create rapid positive effects
on the educational, psychological and physical condition of school students in
the UAE, thanks to the unit’s holistic approach in dealing with child abuse and
its association with all parties concerned with children including schools,
legislative and executive bodies and parents. This will create an integrated
system to provide children with legal and social protection at all educational stages.
Affiliated to the Activities Sector and reporting to the Academic
& Professional Counselling Department, the Child Protection Unit is tasked
with receiving reports on any violation of children’s rights as set forth in the
legislation in force in the UAE, assessing the reported case in light of the
form approved by the Ministry of Community Development and taking appropriate
preventive measures to protect the child (children) subject of the report.
The unit is also tasked with making appropriate intervention plans,
providing the necessary consultations and support to families and children exposed
to harm, violence or abuse and familiarizing them with the proper pedagogical
foundations for dealing with children.
In co-ordination with the competent authorities, the unit also provides
psychosocial, social and health therapy to children exposed to violations or
ill-treatment and tracks the status of families and children during the course
of protection by meeting their needs, assessing their situation and submitting the
necessary recommendations. In addition
to other related tasks, the unit co-ordinates with the competent authorities
and the bodies concerned with searching for and investigating about absent,
fugitive and missing children and their places of residence.
A group of specialists work in the Child Protection Unit and are
tasked mainly with taking the necessary protection measures in cases of threats
to a child’s safety or physical, psychological, moral or mental health. They
are also tasked with taking children away from danger and putting them in a
safe place to ensure they are protected. Other tasks include conducting
comprehensive social research studies that throw light on a child’s environment
and submitting a report to the administrative body he belongs to together with
recommendations so that the necessary measures are taken.
They also include rehabilitating children physically and psychologically
by specialists, registering caregivers in training programs to ensure good
treatment and normal growth of children and preventing children from being
involved in any harmful activities or from going to places that threaten their
physical, psychological and moral integrity.
Other tasks undertaken by the specialists in the Child Protection
Unit include integrating children in programs and activities that support their
respective personalities towards any problems they encounter or challenges they
face and helping children and families acquire the necessary skills for dealing
with problems by means of training courses and workshops.
To report any child abuse case, one should call either the MoE’s
Child Protection Unit dedicated number on 04-217666 or the Ministry of
Interior’s Child Protection Center on 116111 or alternatively email the report
together with the supporting documents, if any.
According to the Child Protection Unit, the course followed by a
child abuse case starts with its call center receiving a report to this effect
round the clock. The report is then referred to the child protection specialist
in the concerned school / private schools as per each emirate. The specialists
then investigate the case and determine how serious the child abuse is.
The child protection specialists will subsequently analyze the case
study and gather evidence to determine the type of child abuse and how serious
it is before assessing the associated harms, taking the necessary action
accordingly and submitting a report to the Child Protection Unit so that the
case is followed up and the file is closed.
Child abuse has four degrees according to how serious it is. These
include abuse in the first degree such as physical or sexual abuse, addiction to
psychotropic substances, neglect and psychological and moral abuse.
Under child abuse in the second degree we have children exposed to
physical, sexual or psychological assault and violence, neglect of serious harm
and grave danger, or bullying involving emotional, psychological or physical
abuse or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Child abuse in the third degree includes children exposed to very
limited harms, bullying or abuse of a minor impact on the recipient, while the
child abuse in the fourth degree includes children exposed to any form of
neglect and harassment that involves abuse but is considered an expected offense
in that age group and geographical area. These include the use of nicknames
expressing racism or indecent phrases.
According to the rules of the Child Protection Unit, it is
mandatory to report any abuse to which children are exposed in the school, the surrounding
area, educational institution facilities, school buses and internal and
external camps and activities organized by the educational institution or the
Child Protection Unit is also committed not to disclose the identity of the reporting
person except with his own consent. It is prohibited to disclose the identity
of all involved parties and witnesses in cases where a child is abused or
maltreated when the information is used in analyses or media reports. Publishing
any information that would lead the abused
child to be identified is also prohibited.
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