4be7336deb688210VgnVCM200000e66411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2009-Q1The police are on your side3be7336deb688210VgnVCM200000e66411ac____The police are on your sideHillary Clinton's recasting of the Nigerian proverb "It takes a village to raise a child" may have become a hoary cliche.<p>Hillary Clinton's recasting of the Nigerian proverb "It takes a village to raise a child" may have become a hoary cliche. But it remains true. Statistics show that teenage crime soars in impersonal high-rise apartment blocks while "villages" of family housing, where the neighbours' eyes are upon you, tend to have fewer such problems.
A corollary to this is that the neighbours must trust the local police officers. Recognising this, the Abu Dhabi community police launched an innovative programme last month to involve teenagers in running their schools. "The Friends of the Police" will work to create a friendly school environment and increase trust between students and teaching staff. In addition to mundane tasks such as directing school bus traffic, they will address students on daily issues though the school radio and promote competitions and awards. In return, the community police have ramped up their engagement with local communities, quadrupling the number of their lectures, workshops and school awareness campaigns.</p>
<p>Yesterday the police announced a new child protection project, aimed at engaging children aged between three and 12. One objective is to reach out to difficult children who are having problems. These are exactly the children who fear the police.
The community police, founded in 2005, are not expected to arrest children, but to counsel them through regular visits to schools and neighbourhoods. In cooperation with social workers, they are there not to punish but to protect: to offer advice and keep children out of trouble. They will also provide sports facilities in certain areas to fight the twin catalysts for juvenile crime: boredom and idleness.</p>
<p>Taken together, these many new forms of preventative action can encourage a wayward child to mend his ways. This is a hands-on approach that, somewhere along the line, might have prevented the horrific school massacres in the West. But the vital long-term effect of the new approach is that police are becoming aware of the problems of each neighbourhood and can now work to solve them. Abu Dhabi is offering a vision of new generations of well-adjusted children growing up in peaceful communities.</p>