Muscat: Oman has taken positive steps in learning to identify and tackle child abuse over recent years. Now, Oman’s Ministry of Social Development has partnered with global organisations for the Arab 6th Regional Conference on the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Lana Al Wreikat, UNICEF representative in Oman, said yesterday, “Speaking specifically in Oman, there has been a lot of effort made to identify and report child abuse through the Ministry of Social Development’s hotline (1100). In addition, the Case Management System has trained professionals such as teachers and health workers to create protocols for handling and reporting child abuse cases and has piloted a programme in Bausher and Nizwa.”
“Hopefully by September, when the conference takes place, we will be able to share the results of this pilot.”
“Furthermore, the Child Protection Committee will be expanded in the future to include more systematic help from the ROP, the Ministry of Health, and the Public Prosecution in this regard,” she added.
Dr. Maha Abdullah Al Muneef, Consultant at the International Society for Child Protection, said, “We have seen a lot of improvement in the GCC region, including Oman, since 2000. It used to be that we would not even speak of physical abuse. Now, I am proud to say that all GCC countries have started a child protection programme. Having such a system is an enormous step towards preventing child abuse in the first place.”
“We will also discuss the role of media in helping societies move forward in protecting children in an ethical manner,” she added.
A speaker at the conference said, “There were a billion abused children around the world last year, according to the UNICEF, and around 56 million in the Arab world. We increasingly see new and painful ways that children are abused. It is important for child protection to become a political priority in the Arab World.”
Dr. Muna Al Sadoon, Dean of the College of Medicine and Health Sciences and member of the Muscat region Child Protection Committee, spoke about the role that health and education professionals have in detecting child abuse.
Asked by Times of Oman about alternative methods to detect child abuse if children or parents are unable to speak out, she said, “This is part of the process of raising the skills of health and education professionals around the child so that they can identify some of the red flags that could point towards child abuse that has not been disclosed or reported.”
“This is one of the most important things we will include in the conference workshops,” she added.”
The conference will take place on September 14 for three days and will welcome up to 500 participants and speakers. It is likely to have around 100 papers presented and no less than 15 workshops.
Dr. Tufail Mohammed, President of the Paediatrician Child Rights & Abuse Committee at the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, said, “The main goal of this conference is the development of a child protection system.”
“As a global organisation we partner with countries to get messages across. For this conference, we are honoured that our partners are the Ministry of Social Development, UNICEF, the Arab Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Children First, as well as Sultan Qaboos University,” he added.