x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Child abuse phone line can change lives

If a child is believed to be in danger at home, a social worker obtains legal permission to enter with police.

Calls reporting abuse to the Sharjah helpline are transferred to a social worker or psychologist.

Sometimes police do not need to be involved, said Ahmed Altartoor, manager of the protection of children's rights administration at Sharjah's Social Services Department.

"When you say you are from social services, they sometimes allow us to enter the home without [police] permission," Mr Altartoor said.

But if the child is believed to be in danger at home, a social worker obtains legal permission to enter with police.

"We take the child to the hospital for care and to make a report," Mr Altartoor said.

If the child needs to be removed from its parents, he or she is temporarily placed in the emirate's centre for abused, neglected and abandoned children.

The child and family receive counselling, with the goal of returning the child home.

Sometimes, however, that is not possible, Mr Altartoor said. If this is the case the child is placed with a relative.

"Some fathers or families are difficult to counsel," he said. "We contact a third party, like the aunt, like the uncle, grandfather, grandmother."

The department places importance on maintaining family ties.

"We are Muslims," Mr Altartoor said. "We have roots."

Before closing a case, social workers make follow-up visits to the home.

"At first, maybe once a week," Mr Altartoor said. The visits taper off if the problems appear to be solved.

 

vnereim@thenational.ae