Protecting children from abuse, even from neighbours and relatives, takes awareness and training, official says
Abu Dhabi: Even neighbours and relatives are not above suspicion when it comes to child abuse, and parents must be alert about whom their children interact with outside their homes, a police officer told members of the community on Saturday.
Imran Abbas, adviser at the Abu Dhabi Community Police’s We Are All Police department, was interacting with residents during an event titled ‘Stranger Danger’ organised by the Indian Ladies Association in collaboration with the Universal Hospital in Abu Dhabi. It was attended by parents along with their children.
Abbas cited the example of the Pakistani boy, Azan, whose body was recovered from his building’s rooftop a day after he was reported missing last year. A close relative was found guilty of killing him.
Speaking to Gulf News, Abbas said: “Parents should keep a close eye on their children when they mingle with others in or outside homes. Don’t trust anybody — whether it’s a neighbour or a relative.”
He added: “We have witnessed the cases of Obaida and Azan who were abducted, sexually abused and then killed. So parents need to always keep an eye when they meet with people at home or outside.”
Obaida was raped and killed in Dubai.
Annu Chouraria, general secretary of the Indian Ladies Association, said: “It’s very important to groom the innocence and the curiosity of kids to know the unknown. Life is not a fictional story and a reality check on the dangers lurking around is a must.”
She added: “Abu Dhabi is the safest city in the world, but we should be cautious and careful about children and should educate them about the different kinds of social media abuses and cyber threats.”
Social media sites are a bigger challenge for parents nowadays as most children binge on games and chat with known and unknown people.
Abbas said: “Supervise the use of internet at home and remind your children to never give out any personal information online, or to people they don’t know.”
He urged parents to develop an open, trusting, no secrets’ relationship so that children can discuss any issues, concerns without fear of being in trouble.
The police officer showed the audience a video showing two 10-year-olds chatting and sharing mobile numbers and home addresses with each other.
Then they agreed to meet at a nearby place. Some perpetrator hacked the boy’s account and again enquired further details and the meeting place. The girl gave this man all the details and agreed to meet him assuming that she was still chatting with the boy. Then the crime takes place.
“Don’t scare children. Parents and children should be always alert about strangers, but not feel paranoid,” he said.
He asked residents to teach children to behave in a way that will help them to be cautious and careful.
Parents have to play a vital role in making society safe and secure by training their children on how to recognise and remember perpetrators, Abbas said.
“In case children inform you that a stranger approached them, ask them to sketch the individual in terms of face, hairstyle, clothes and shoes. This can help police track down the culprit.”
We Are All Police
More than 10,000 people from the community, so far, have registered with the police. They have teamed up with the Abu Dhabi Police to volunteer their services to society.
Couple of years back, Abu Dhabi Police started recruiting volunteers from the community who can offer their services partnering with the police. Such volunteers are trained about their duties.
“Over 2,000 community people were trained so far and others are gradually being trained to take the society’s voluntary responsibility and inform the police if they find anything suspicious around the community as well as help the police during festivals,” Abbas said.
He urged the community to come forward and volunteer for the community policing and be a part of the Abu Dhabi Police team.