All students under the age of 18 from across both public and private schools in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, will now benefit from the newly implemented Child Protection Policy, which has been developed by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) for the first time in response to the UAE Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 on Child Rights and in the interest of ADEC to apply international standards in student protection against all forms of abuse and neglect.
ADEC’s unified Child Protection Policy has been designed to identify and support students who may have suffered any form of abuse or neglect, as per the UAE Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 on Child Rights, which has been benchmarked against international standards on child protection.
The Policy was disseminated to all public and private schools from the start of the 2016-17 academic school year, with clear instructions on how different stakeholders and individuals can report an alleged abuse or neglect case.
As defined by the Policy, abuse refers to physical abuse, corporal punishment, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and includes bullying, exploitation and neglect.
Neglect is for instance defined as the persistent failure to meet a student’s basic physical, emotional and/or psychological need, likely to result in serious impairment of the child’s health or development. It involves failing of a parent or a guardian to take actions that are considered necessary to care for children including but not limited to for example providing adequate food, clothing and shelter; providing healthcare and appropriate medical treatment; providing education and regular school attendance; maintaining personal hygiene and ensuring adequate stimulation.
The Child Protection Policy emphasizes on the equal rights for protection, safety, and security students have in all public and private schools.
“School principals, school staff, ADEC employees and parents are all responsible of reporting suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. Protecting our children is the responsibility of the community at large. Anyone who suspects or witnesses any risk, harm or injury inflicted on a child, must immediately report it and without hesitation,” stressed H.E. Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi, ADEC’s Director General.
“The policy provides clear guidance on ways to protect children while in the school’s care, while travelling to and from school using school transport, and moving between, waiting for, and taking part in all activities organized by the school inside or outside the school campus,” re-affirmed His Excellency.
Major General Dr. Nasser Lakhrebani Al Nuaimi, Secretary General of the Office of HH Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Chairman of the Higher Committee for Child Protection at the Ministry of Interior, lauded ADEC’s launching of the new child protection policy that will serve students’ interests in both public and private school across Abu Dhabi. This initiative comes in response to the Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 on Children Rights, known as “Wadima Law”, which reflects ADEC’s keenness on implementing the international standards in terms of child protection, and on developing a consolidated policy for students protection from all forms of abuse and neglect, guided by international standards and in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior.
Moreover, the Chairman of the Higher Committee urged school administration and staff, parents, and children themselves to develop the endeavors aimed to educate everyone on the means of protection and prevention, and raise awareness amongst children about the different potential dangers they may face, especially on the internet, and ways of detecting and reporting any suspected abuse online, as well as dealing with strangers and suspicious behavior.
The school principal, as per the Policy, agrees to act as the guardian of all students while they are under the school’s care.
School staff must inform the school principal immediately when and if they suspect the exposure of any student to any form of abuse and/or neglect, as well as raise the awareness of students on the importance of reporting any suspected student abuse and/or neglect case/s inside or outside the school that becomes known to them.
Additionally, all school staff and ADEC employees are authorized and mandated to report all cases of suspected abuse and/or neglect conducted by a perpetrator inside or outside a school, by directly contacting the Ministry of Interior – Child Protection Center within 24 hours upon suspicion.
Parents and legal guardians play a huge role in protecting their children through cooperating with the school administration and staff. They are expected to answer all inquiries related to the individual student’s behavior, academic performance, while responding to feedback and guidance.
“Parents are our partners in the overall education reform process, and play a pivotal role in encouraging their children to learn, attain knowledge, stay focused and interested. Legal guardians are expected to share any concerns, observations, or changes in their child’s behavior with their child’s school and in efforts to address and/or detect a particular area of concern,” advised Dr. Al Nuaimi.
It is worth noting that case reports and student data are kept strictly confidential as per the Child Protection Policy, which clearly states that the identity of the student subject to an alleged abuse or neglect, the alleged perpetrator, and the person reporting the alleged case, are kept confidential by all parties involved in the case. The data is only shared with authorized individuals from the ADEC Division in charge of child protection and the Ministry of Interior – Child Protection Center and Social Support Center authorized staff.
How to report an alleged child abuse/neglect:
ADEC in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior – Child Protection Centre, has implemented a unified child abuse and neglect reporting process that ensures immediate intervention to protect all students under the age of 18 who attend schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region.
According to the policy it is mandated to report cases via telephone hotline (116111) and the electronic reporting link available on ADEC’s website:
If a child is in immediate danger (risk of serious harm), the police should be contacted directly using the 999 service, followed by reporting to the Ministry of Interior – Child Protection Center within one hour upon discovery. In addition, school staff must inform the School Principal immediately.