UAE on the right track with child protection

A group of international experts in Child Protection are in Dubai this week, conducting workshops for teachers and coaches and a community seminar to raise awareness about child protection in the UAE.

An initiative by Austability, an Australian-owned company that aims to foster positive independent change within communities to increase security and stability, the workshops and seminars are part of a long-term strategy to develop customised and culturally sensitive solutions that can be implemented in the UAE to safeguard children.

The workshop and seminar, conducted on Monday, were designed to increase awareness and understanding of Child Protection, to provide information on what constitutes child abuse, how to recognise it, how to safeguard children and reduce exposure to risk, and what responses and actions are appropriate.

Speaking at the seminar, Barry Randall, an Australian police detective with 22 years’ experience in the field, said “The UAE has always recognised the need for Child Protection legislation and is on the right track with mandatory reporting of child abuse enshrined in legislation.

“It is a requirement for teachers and any adult who comes across a case where there is suspicion that a crime has taken place against that child for it to be reported by law.

Emily Reid, specialist in Child Protection and Trafficking with the United Nations, outlined the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, saying “The Convention’s primary objective is to protect children from discrimination, neglect and abuse. The Convention provides a universal set of standards to be adhered to by all countries.

“It is important to realise that child abuse can take many forms, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect, trafficking, forced labour, forced marriage, exploitation, family violence, and cyber bullying.”

One of the key messages of the seminar was that child protection is not the sole responsibility of parents or teachers. Shona Spence, a lawyer working with the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, the national body for children at risk, said “Child protection is a shared responsibility, it is a partnership with all involved, parents, schools and the whole community.”

“It is critical that if anyone in the community has suspicions of abuse or neglect of children that they report it early” said Rachael Freedman, a social worker from Wales.  “We have seen what can happen if it is ignored. That is not just within educational settings, but across all sections of society.”

Pam Randall, a Detective Senior Constable in the Child Protection Unit in Australia, said “Importantly, parents need to be aware of the adults their children may come into contact with. They need to be confident that their children are in the care of responsible and trustworthy adults who understand and respect boundaries.”

In light of the overwhelmingly positive response from the community to the workshop and seminar, Austability plans to conduct more information sessions in the coming months.

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