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World Children’s Day: Ministry took care of over 1,400 children last year
November 20, 2019 | 10:27 PM
by Sheikha Al Maqhousi / [email protected]
 
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Muscat: Oman’s child welfare hotline received more than 2,000 calls in 2018 for cases of childcare concerns in the country, more than twice the number it received in the previous year, and led to 1,416 children receiving care and protection.

The child welfare hotline, a 24-hour service, was set up by the Ministry of Social Development for people to report issues of abuse that were meted out to children, and was accessible to both the children themselves, as well as concerned well-wishers, parents, relatives and guardians. 2,046 calls were received by this hotline in 2018, according to the ministry’s annual report.

These statistics were shared by the Ministry of Social Development on the occasion of World Children’s Day, which falls on November 20.

Greater community awareness has led to rise in reporting of violence cases against children. Photo: Shutterstock


Various means

They also shared various means of child protection they had at their disposal. More awareness among people about the presence of this hotline meant they were increasingly willing to step up and report cases of child neglect.



Speaking to the Times of Oman, Qasim Al Amri, the assistant director of the Protection Department at the Ministry of Social Development said, “In 2018, the number of calls increased to twice as much as the previous year, which is positive and shows evidence of increased community awareness on child protection issues and their knowledge of the role of child protection committees.”

In 2017, the Ministry of Social Development announced the establishment of the child protection hotline, which worked 24 hours and provided services to children upon being notified by either children themselves, or by other concerned persons, about incidents of violence, abuse or danger to which the child was subjected.

Immediate attention

Al Amri explained, “The Child Protection Committees are distributed in all governorates of the Sultanate and include members from the Ministry of Health and Public Prosecution in addition to the specialist from the Ministry of Social Development. Upon receipt of the communication, it is immediately referred to the delegate to deal with the situation directly at any time.”

“The line is a link between the community and the child protection committees. The law also ensures the confidentiality of the reporter data and people should not worry about that. Protecting children is our first concern,” he added. In 2018, the ministry dealt with 1,478 cases of children who required family protection services. Child protection committees dealt with 1,416 children at risk of abuse, including 821 boys and 595 girls, while 62 at risk of abuse were enrolled in the primary care centre known as Dar Al Wifaq. >A8

Qasim Al Amri added, “The centre receives children who are in a dangerous situation, and there, they are psychologically and socially rehabilitated. The child will be returned to the family only after we make sure the family is able to rear the child in a suitable family environment.”

According to the statistics of the first quarter of 2019 issued by the Ministry of Social Development, the highest cases of child abuse were related to neglect, which accounted for 45.2 per cent of all those who were abused, followed by physical abuse, which was found in 32.4 per cent of cases. Another 31 per cent faced psychological abuse.

Al Amri said, “Neglect includes failure to provide healthcare for the child, the father’s abstention from obtaining identification papers, not taking the child to receive the proper vaccinations, not enrolling the child in school, and not providing the child’s basic needs with the parent’s ability to do so. The Children’s Code criminalises all such acts and provides penalties to offenders.”

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