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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

UAE parents warned over stranger-danger as children are 'lured away' in social experiment

Authorities hope findings will make parents more vigilant 

Sharjah Police and the Supreme Council for Family Affairs carried out a test that saw psychologists approach young children to highlight a lack of awareness among parents and children. Courtesy: Child Safety Campaign, Supreme Council for Family Affairs
Sharjah Police and the Supreme Council for Family Affairs carried out a test that saw psychologists approach young children to highlight a lack of awareness among parents and children. Courtesy: Child Safety Campaign, Supreme Council for Family Affairs

Half of the child subjects in a social experiment voluntarily walked off with strangers, in a result the authorities hope will remind parents to be more vigilant.

Sharjah Police and the Supreme Council for Family Affairs carried out a test in which psychologists approached young children to highlight a lack of awareness among youngsters and parents.

Twenty-six children of various ages were tested for the Your Child, Your Responsibility study.

Thirteen were successfully lured away by the team at the Sahara Centre with promises of games, gifts and sweets. The other half refused to go with them.

“There is probably nothing that freaks out a parent more than the fear of their child being lured away by a stranger, which is why we conducted this experiment to raise parents’ awareness about the need to constantly talk about stranger-danger with their little ones,” said Hanadi Al Yafei, director of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs and head of the Organising Committee of the Child Safety Campaign.

“During the experiment, we received different reactions from children, regardless of their age or nationality.

"We found out that there are many parents and children who are fully aware about this topic - a fact that made us really happy and satisfied. But we are a bit concerned about the fact that some others were so easily lured."

Sharjah Police and the Supreme Council for Family Affairs carried out a test that saw psychologists approach young children to highlight a lack of awareness among parents and children. Courtesy: Child Safety Campaign, Supreme Council for Family Affairs

Statistics from the International Labour Organisation show 1.2 million children are being trafficked at any time worldwide.

Ms Al Yafei referred to the low crime rate in the UAE but said not all countries were as safe, including many holiday destinations.

The campaign will circulate the results of the experiment to all childcare centres and institutions, and broadcast the experiment’s video on TV channels and social media to raise public awareness.