Dubai announces new 24-hour hotline for reporting child abuse

A girl points out a baby crab to other children as they play on the beach in in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2004. (AP)

Dubai announced on Wednesday the launch of new 24-hour hotline dedicated to reporting cases of child abuse, neglect, and violence – a timely initiative as coronavirus preventative measures have led to children spending more time at home and away from school and health institutions.

The channel, which will allow community members to report incidents to authorities, is part of an effort to enhance child protection programs in the emirate, according to state news agency WAM.

The hotline is being set up “in light of the prevailing distance education policy and the current circumstances keeping children away from educational and health institutions,” according to the WAM report.

A lone taxi cab drives over a typically gridlocked highway with the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, in the skyline behind it in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on April 6, 2020. (AP)

A lone taxi cab drives over a typically gridlocked highway with the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, in the skyline behind it in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on April 6, 2020. (AP)

The decision was made by Dubai’s Community Development Authority (CDA), which is responsible for setting up and developing frameworks for social development in Dubai.

Director General of the CDA Ahmed Julfar told WAM the hotline will simplify procedures and unify channels to report violations against child protection. Before, reports were received from various authorities in Dubai, “making it difficult to monitor the situation of the children,” according to WAM.

“The unified hotline…provides greater ease in the procedures for reporting cases of abuse and neglect,” Julfar told WAM. “The hotline also guarantees confidentiality of the person reporting the incident and speeds up action on the abuse cases. It also encourages the detection of all cases of abuse and neglect,”

CDA will receive reports confidentially through its 24/7 hotline (800988) that will then be evaluated according to severity and assigned to a child protection specialist. Subsequently, a CDA official will again evaluate cases according to their severity and will take appropriate action.

A member of medical staff wearing a protective face mask and gloves takes a swab from a man during drive-thru coronavirus disease testing (COVID-19) at a screening center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 30, 2020. (Reuters)

A member of medical staff wearing a protective face mask and gloves takes a swab from a man during drive-thru coronavirus disease testing (COVID-19) at a screening center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 30, 2020. (Reuters)

As the coronavirus spreads around the world, there have been an uptick in reports of child abuse. International organizations such as the United Nations have warned that the restrictions on movement may mean children are more at risk of abuse at home.

UN experts urged all governments on Tuesday to ensure child protection services are “adequately staffed and equipped,” including 24-hour hotlines.

That way “we can make sure that children’s dignity and rights are protected and that no child bears the collateral consequences of this unprecedented pandemic,” the experts said in a UN press release.

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