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1. Child Abuse investigation :

In the United Arab Emirates, there is no criminal offence of ‘child abuse’ as such. The term ‘child abuse’ is a comprehensive one, which is used to describe a range of activities, that may or may not, constitute criminal offences. In light of this fact, it is difficult to stipulate precise definitions. A child may suffer or be at risk of suffering from one or more types of abuse. Abuse may take place on a single occasion or may occur repeatedly over time. It is more appropriate therefore to base requirement for full investigation on an individual case assessment. Such an assessment needs to be completed by professional practitioners who have knowledge and experience in the field of child protection and whose practice is subject to continual assessment. Abuse of children has been internationally defined in the following four categories :

- Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the deliberate physical injury to a child, or the willful neglectful failure to prevent physical injury or suffering. This may include hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, confinement to a room or cot, or inappropriately giving drugs to control behaviour .

- Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may involve causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some levels of emotional abuse are involved in all types of ill-treatment of a child, though it may occur alone. Domestic violence, adult mental health problems, and parental substance misuse may expose children to emotional abuse .

- Sexual Abuse & Exploitation

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children looking at, or the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways .

- Neglect

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s physical, emotional, and/or psychological needs, likely to result in significant harm. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter, and clothing, failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger, failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment, lack of stimulation, or lack of supervision. It may also include non-organic failure to thrive. The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre aims to develop the best possible arrangements for the investigation of all forms of child abuse, ensuring that those who commit serious offences against children are brought to justice and to provide child abuse victims with the best possible investigative and support services .

2. Prevention of Neglect, Physical, Emotional & Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

The age old saying, “prevention is better than cure” is true not only in the context of health but also in the protection of children.  A lot can be done in society to prevent the sexual or physical abuse of children .  

Child Abuse and neglect is wrong and should never be tolerated in any society.  Parents, teachers and children must learn this and be prepared to implement measures to ensure children protection.  Parents must learn how to keep children safe from neglect, physical, emotional and sexual abuse without scaring them or overwhelming them with explicit details about all the bad things that might happen. Children are most vulnerable for different forms of exploitation by adults for money or other benefits. They need protection from any form of exploitation. In general, children are being exploited commercially and or sexually .     

Children should be taught to recognise what is acceptable and what is not acceptable behaviour by both adults and other children.  They should be empowered to stop unwanted touches, teasing or physical assault and taught to persist until they get the help they need.  These skills can be taught by parents through role play and by using examples that are age-appropriate and relevant to their daily lives .  

The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre will work with all other entities and organisations in the UAE to prevent the risk of children being neglected or being physically, emotionally and/or sexually abused .

3. Child Protection on Roads and in Transport

It is a sad fact that many children are killed or injured on our roads and streets. Some of these occur in accidents and in circumstances that could be prevented. Whether children are pedestrians or passengers in vehicles, they need to be protected by the best means possible. The wearing of child seat restraints in cars and buses is but one example of how many of these unfortunate injuries and deaths could be prevented. Providing children with road safety information can also have an impact on the risk to children. Other risks exist to children being transported in, for example, buses and taxis such as the risk of physical or sexual assault. Each of these risks must be individually addressed if we are to make the transport system of the UAE a safe service for children. The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre will work in collaboration with other entities, including transport authorities, schools, and hospitals to ensure parents are fully aware of the risks that exist and that measures are taken to enforce laws aimed at keeping children safe in transport .

4. Child Protection in Buildings

Recent unfortunate incidents have revealed the real risks to children that exist in the context of buildings and their design. Many buildings in the UAE are high-rise in nature and have been designed with balconies. These may present a risk to children and the need for close regulation, as well as parental awareness, has become apparent. Other buildings having swimming pools and other facilities can present serious risks to children. People often believe that the family home is the safest place for children and in the vast majority of cases this is true. We can, however, become complacent and fail to recognise the many dangers and threats, apart from the risks related to buildings that exist. Home safety is a large topic and home safety for children is a very important aspect of it. Risks are presented of electrocution, drowning, falling on hard surfaces, poisoning, and injury from normal household items .

The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre will work with other partner entities and organisations to address each of the range of risks that are presented to children in buildings. Add to that, the Center will work towards raising the awareness of parents and carers of the risks and how they might be prevented. The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre will work, in collaboration with other entities and organisations, to identify the range of household risks that exist and to take steps to make the public aware of how death and injury can be prevented .

5. Child Protection in Crisis and Disasters

Disaster and Crisis can come in many forms. We have seen recent examples of earthquake, tidal flooding, and other natural disasters happening across the world. One of these situations might involve conflict and war. Many children suffer from abuse, violence, neglect, and exploitation when disaster or crisis strikes. Children can become separated from parents or made orphan. They can suffer homelessness and hunger because of even less serious disasters and crisis. The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre aims to develop plans that will ensure that children are protected in any natural disaster or in any time of emergency or crisis .

6. Child Protection in Public Venues

Public venues present a number of risks to children. This can include risk of getting separated from parents and becoming lost, risk of being trampled among large crowds, or risk of being abducted. It is important for parents to know how to prevent and reduce these risks and for agencies to know how to respond. Many public venues present other risks such as risk of drowning, risk of falling, or of a child being seriously injured or killed. The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre will work in collaboration with Civil Defence and other entities to ensure that plans are in place to protect children in all public venues especially when there are major events taking place .

7. Child Protection from Technological Risks & Threats

The internet has the potential to offer children and young people with a wide range of opportunities – to learn, to develop new skills, to keep in touch with friends and make new ones and to have fun. However, in the meanwhile there are ranges of risks and dangers online that threats children’s safety and are widely known now .

Threats can arise in any time and in different ways as following :

- Children and young people inadvertently or deliberately accessing  either illegal or inappropriate sexual or violent material online – illegal material could involve children or adults.

- Targeting and grooming of children by predatory adults through chat rooms, possibly adults posing as children.

- The abuse of children, in some cases in real time using web cams, in order to provide material for paedophile news groups.

- The use of email, instant messaging etc. to bully and harass other – this may be more likely to occur between children and young people.

- Addiction to use of the internet and information technology resulting in impaired real life, social skills and threats to overall health especially to such features like games or instant messaging, has been described as being just as powerful as a drug addiction .

The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre will work with both national and international organisations to address the issues of risk to children on the internet.  Steps will be taken, to identify and prosecute persons involved in the production or use of abuse images of children.  Further, work towards raising public awareness of the risks and dangers and seek to assist in educating children to use the internet safely .   

8. Protection Against Known Dangerous Persons

In light of the fact that those who have a known history of violent or sexually harmful behaviour present a risk to the public, various countries have introduced the concept of offender registration legislation with a range of legal requirements being placed on such offenders following conviction for specified offences. We know that persons convicted of violent and sexually related offences pose a significant risk to children, protecting the public, especially children, from sex offenders is a primary governmental interest and fits with the Ministry of Interior strategic plan to provide safety and security for all citizens and non-national residnets. Many people make the mistake in believing that Sex Offender Registration and Public Notification are the same. Sex Offender Registration requirement is a different and separate subject from Public Notification of Violent and Sex Offenders.

The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre will work in collaboration with other government and non-government entities to address the risk posed to children by persons who use violent and sexually aggressive behaviour against children. These will include persons who have committed such offences both by harming children and by their use of other means such as the internet .

9. Child Protection in Schools and Education

Children spend a significant amount of their time in school. While the vast majority of this time provides for a happy educational environment, but still there are some risks around. Many societies have, in recent years, been devastated by horrific crime being perpetrated in school environments. These have ranged from violent incidents involving firearms to the sexual and physical abuse of even very young children. The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre will work with education authorities to ensure that children are protected while at school and on their way to and from school .

10. Child Protection Against Bullying and Peer Abuse

Bullying is defined as “the use of force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others. The behaviour can be habitual and detrimental to the health and wellbeing of students and can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion and may be directed repeatedly towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, age or ability .”

Sadly, the phenomenon of bullying has spread and is now a significant threat to the health and safety of many children. While a significant amount of the problem manifests in schools it is also very prevalent in other places including neighbourhoods and social environments .

The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre will work, in collaboration with other entities and agencies, to address the issue of bullying among children in order to ensure that children do not suffer the harm that is often associated with this activity .

11. Child Protection in Troubled Families

The family unit is recognised to be at the very centre of a healthy society. In the vast majority of cases the family is the most appropriate and safest place for children. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case. Some children can be at risk of abuse or neglect within the family. This risk becomes more serious where a known sexual offender or violent person is among the family members or where due to other factors such as substance abuse, poor hygiene or poverty. It is now well known that children who live with parents in situations of domestic violence, bullying, depression, or psychological problems are at risk of being harmed. A number of children are considered more vulnerable due to their suffering from an illness or disability. Such vulnerable children are at increased risk and require additional interventions to ensure their safety and protection. It is important, in order to effectively protect children, to address the issue of children who are growing up in such adverse conditions. Where possible, agencies should endeavour, to work with families and to enable them to better protect children.

The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre will work, in collaboration with other entities, to provide families with the best information on protecting children. It will also take whatever action is deemed appropriate to address the issues and problems that often appear in families by providing mechanisms for reporting concerns and for resolving family problems .

12. Child Protection in Sport

It is a duty of all organisations and facilities that provide opportunity for children to be involved in sporting activities to provide the best standards of care and protection for them. Organisations who work with children have a legal and moral duty to ensure the safety of children in their care, whether this relates to risk of injury due to activities or equipment or to risk posed by the adults who are present in the environment. Parents should be ensuring that the sport organizations are safe with applying safety standards that warrant security and protection for children to be for that a first priority for involving them in any activity.

Whilst the vast majority of those who provide sporting services for children have a good motive for their activity there are a number of persons who, sadly, have more sinister motives for being involved in sporting activities with children. Staff and volunteers should be provided with clear direction on how best to help protect both themselves and the children they work with. Any potential for abuse will be minimised and a positive atmosphere will be created, facilitating a rewarding and enjoyable experience for all concerned if everyone understands the boundaries of what are acceptable and what are unacceptable behaviours in any sporting activity.

The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre will work with other entities to ensure the safety and protection of children in sport by providing awareness of risks and dangers to parents and organisations and by working with organisations and entities to raise the awareness among children of how to avoid the risks that they face in sporting activities.

13. Protection from Human Trafficking

The trafficking of human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation and labour is not a new phenomenon. Slavery is a subject that has   been with the human race for many centuries. This slavery or exploitation is now recognised as a clear violation of the human rights of the individual involved and has been identified as criminal activity both in international and domestic law. In our present day children, even very young children, are known to be a target for human trafficking. Children are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, for labour, and even sometimes to fulfil the parental needs of men and women who are unable to have their own children. Each of these factors raise their own risks for children and require that robust arrangements are put in place to prevent this crime.

The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre will work with other government and non-government agencies, nationally and internationally, to identify and investigate any instance of human trafficking in children .

14. Prevention of Child Work Exploitation

One of the sad fact of life that there are those who will, not only seek to exploit children in a sexual manner but, seek to increase their wealth through the exploitation of children. This is now an internationally recognised problem and while the UAE have seen very few examples of such exploitation here in recent years, we do acknowledge that it has been a historic problem.

The Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre will work with other government and non-government agencies and entities to identify and eradicate any exploitation of children in labour.