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Viral videos reveal harsh realities on child abuse

It is up to us to make sure anyone involved in these heinous crimes is named and shamed

Yara al-Wazir

Published: Updated:

A shocking number of videos that showcase child abuse at refugee camps, religious and governmental institutions have gone viral in recent months. What these videos show is the disgusting reality that some children in the Middle East have to suffer through no fault of their own.

Whenever I spot online users sharing these videos, I cannot help but question the authenticity of their dates, times and locations. There is no doubt in my mind that child abuse is as rampant as it is inexcusable across the region. And that’s the sad reality of these videos – they could have been filmed anywhere and at any time, maybe even yesterday.

School mustn’t be hated, and especially not feared

What these videos reflect is a highly dangerous habit that plagues the region: the tolerance and acceptance of corporal punishment as a form of discipline. The only Arab country to prohibit corporal punishment against children is Tunisia, which banned it in 2010. A handful of Arab countries have prohibited corporal punishment in either day-cares, or schools, or at home, but never has one of these nations banned it for all three situations put together.

It is up to us to make sure anyone involved in these heinous crimes is named and shamed

Yara al-Wazir

In my experience, children already loathe educational institutions in the region. They are poorly designed, curriculums are exceptionally difficult, the atmosphere is unwelcoming, and the facilities are poor, at best. These statements are made with regards to public schools across the region, and exclude exceptions in some GCC countries. It’s enough that children hate going to school, we must not let them fear it too.

The power is in public hands – literally

Ultimately, these videos aren’t of government officials committing crimes, they show members of the public in the act. Thus, the power lies within the hands of the people – literally. It is up to us to make sure anyone involved in these heinous crimes is named and shamed, and social media may be our only tool to make this happen.

When it comes to the case of refugees, no one can argue that these children haven’t been through enough. Regardless of whether or not the refugee influx is being welcomed by the host countries, children must at least feel safe when in education and at home.

Governments can install laws and regulations to ban child abuse, but behind closed doors it is difficult to ensure they are being enforced. These laws and regulations are necessary and useful, but so are parenting classes and social training on dealing with children. Health and mental stability screenings should be conducted on every individual who has to deal with children on a day-to-day basis.

Change takes time, and until governments stand up for young people and are proactive in stopping this abuse, we, as the public, must continue to name-and-shame the abusers.

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Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir


Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.