Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Annual campaign to address problem of child abuse, offer solutions

Dubai organisation will conduct programme at four malls as part of international awareness month.

DUBAI // Parents will be urged to keep closer watch over their offspring as part of a month-long campaign to raise awareness on child abuse that begins on Friday.

“Protect Childhood”, an annual campaign by the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC), will include tips from female Emirati students to families at four shopping malls in the emirate. The initiative coincides with the international child abuse awareness month.

“The campaign is part of our main strategy to increase awareness and educate the community on child abuse and sexual harassment against children,” said Afra al Basti, the foundation’s chief executive. “In every society and every community there are many reasons for child abuse. Poverty is the main thing. There are also alcoholism, weak family relations and drugs.”

Barriers to discussing the issues of abuse and domestic violence were difficult to surmount because of cultural taboos and the foundation was working hard to overcome them, Ms al Basti said.

“There is shame and embarrassment. When we started, people were looking at us with suspicion,” she said. “The community still does not know how an non-governmental organisation or civil society organisation can help.”

The campaign will begin at the Arabian Centre then move to the Mirdif City Centre and the Dubai Mall before ending at the Deira City Centre on April 30. Stalls will distribute informational handouts and invite questions on abuse. Issues requiring counselling or more attention will be directed to the centre’s toll-free helpline, 800111.

A comic book with child-friendly messages will also be distributed and painting workshops will be held as well. Educational seminars and theatre plays will be held simultaneously at schools and universities.

The initiative comes in the wake of a nationwide study that the foundation plans to conduct this September in schools to gauge the extent of violence against children. All public and private schools in the Emirates will help in collating data gathered from questionnaires and other research tools.

“There is no accurate research that has been conducted on children here. We have no indicators and by the end of this study we will know where we stand,” said Ms al Basti.

The study, which was announced late last year, has been delayed because of its sheer size. The foundation is liaising with several organisations to enlist their assistance and is reviewing the study parameters as it prepares the questionnaires, Ms al Basti said.
The research will be conducted regarding children between ages six and 18.

The study comes after a non-scientific academic paper put together by a group of Emirati students last year found that the local community was by and large unaware of the dangers children were exposed to on a daily basis.

The informal study, which took five months to conclude, examined child abuse among Emiratis and included interviews with authorities and observed interviews with victims, said Marilyn Davis of the Zayed University College of Education.

“They found that parents should conduct background checks on school bus drivers and care givers like nannies. They also concluded that parents should keep children close at malls,” said Ms Davis.

The group of students will also be helping DFWAC reach out to the community.

"Our students will be handing out literature on how to protect children,” Ms Davis said. “They will talk to families about not letting children travel in buses without trusted supervisors or the dangers of dropping children way too early in school. In our minds, we think the schools are a safe place.”

She added that it was time for the UAE to adopt a slogan that children could remember easily, akin to the ‘danger stranger’ campaign in the US.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Shah Rukh Khan performs at the IPL Gala dinner to open IPL VII at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi.

In pictures: Shah Rukh Khan stars at IPL Gala dinner in Abu Dhabi

The superstar entertainer Shah Rukh Khan on stage last night at a gala dinner to launch the Indian Premier League cricket tournament.

No words can describe this April 17, your captions will

Have a catchy caption for this picture. Share it with us and we might publish it and reward you.

 When this 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp goes under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on June 17, it is expected to attract a world record bid for a single stamp of up to $20 million (Dh73.4m). Courtesy Sotheby’s

Rare 1856 stamp up for auction at Sotheby’s

This is one of the world’s rarest stamps and when it goes up for auction in June it should fetch $20million. Its history since it was issued in 1856 is fascinating – and includes one murderous chapter, as Jonathan Gornall reports

 This Dh17,000 Miele system can prepare your choice of coffee - from capuccino to espresso - at a touch of a button. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Miele puts art in coffee making

Miele has devoted itself to the art of preparing the black liquid with its beautifully designed coffee machines, living up to its mantra of turning kitchens into cafés.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Amir Khan, during a workout at the Gloves Community Centre on March 24, 2014 in Bolton, England, says his fight will be the real main event in Las Vegas on May 3. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Amir Khan says bout with Luis Collazo ‘will steal the show’ in Las Vegas on May 3

British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan says his fight with Luis Collazo will be the main attraction on same fight card led by Floyd Mayweather Jr and Marcos Maidana, writes Omar Al Raisi.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National