45% of Saudi children face family abuse

Authorities asked to take urgent action to tackle the problem

Nearly 45 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s children are suffering from abuse and violence at home and this should prompt authorities to take urgent action, a prominent female Saudi psychiatrist was reported on Sunday as saying.

The child intelligence centre, a private agency based in the western Saudi Red Sea port of Jeddah, discovered nearly 500 child abuse cases in local families in 2011, a sharp increase over the previous year’s 292 cases, the centre’s director, Sana Al Huwaili, told the Saudi Arabic language daily Alriyadh.

“Child abuse in Saudi Arabia is steadily rising…….figures by the Ministry of Social Affairs show that nearly 45 per cent of the Kingdom’s children are suffering from abuse and violence by their families,” she said.

“This worsening problem should prompt the authorities and all other concerned parties to take urgent action through an extensive awareness and education campaign targeting all segments of the society…we should also focus our efforts on the education authorities as many students undergo verbal and physical abuse at school and home.”

Huwaili said parents in Saudi Arabia, with a population of around 28 million, need to change their behavior towards their children.

“They just need to learn how to deal with their children whether they are troublesome or creative…parents’ behavior reflects positively or negative on their children…in the negative case, it could delay the child’s growth including intelligence, talking and understanding….it could also lead to an aggressive behavior by the child such as damaging property, deliberate harming of others, fleeing home, sleeping problems, anxiety, depression, guilt and embarrassment, and weak self-confidence….all these cases could push children to indulge in crime.”

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