x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Parents told to stop hitting children in new campaign

Dubai Foundation for Women and Children aims to raise awareness of child abuse.

DUBAI // Adults will be urged to stop hitting their kids to make them behave during a campaign designed to raise awareness of child abuse.

The 'Care and Love... The Key to Protection' campaign is being run by the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children during April, which is International Child Abuse Awareness Month.

"The problem in this society is that some people believe if they beat their children they are not abusing them," said Fatma Hassan, the foundation's communications director.

"They think, 'We want the children to be polite and kindly so we have to beat them'. We want to send this message, 'No, don't beat the child, there are other ways, talk with the child rather than beat him'."

The foundation runs a shelter for victims of domestic violence, child abuse and human trafficking. Children or parents who need help can call the hotline number, 800111.

“If they are abused then come to our foundation,” said Ms Hassan. “Ask for help. We will have total privacy for you, we are totally confidential, so come and ask for help and we will meet all of your needs.

“The main objective of this campaign is to increase awareness in society about how to protect children, and how children can protect themselves. The child will not be with you all the time: the child will go outside to go to school or play in the park. Key messages [for them] are, don’t sit alone with a stranger, and, if a stranger touches you or you are uncomfortable with a situation, try to scream.”

A campaign roadshow featuring performers dressed as characters from the Emirati cartoon series Shaabiat Al Cartoon will visit Mirdif City Centre, the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall and the Arabian Centre.

The Arabic series was created by illustrator Haider Mohammed in 2004 as a mobile phone animation and was turned into a TV show in 2006. It features a multicultural group of families and individuals living in Dubai.

A booklet featuring the characters has been prepared specially for the campaign to get the message across to youngsters.

Abdulla Al Falasi, business partner relationship director at Dubai-based Fanar Production, which makes the show, said: “This is the best way to reach a child; children love these characters.

“We hope that through participation in the campaign, our combined efforts will bear fruit and shed light on the phenomenon of paedophilia.”

The foundation is currently working on the first research study of child abuse to be conducted across the UAE, looking at cases both at school and in the home. The results are due to be released later this year.