The efficacy of a law finds its fulcrum in the wholehearted support of the public and the UAE’s Child Protection Law — which came into effect in June 2016 — is already making its purpose felt as more and more schools are stepping forward to directly report cases of child abuse to the ministry. What’s more, they are also seeking more awareness on this issue from the authorities to accelerate the momentum of redressal.
This is a strong validation of one of the law’s salient features that combines empowerment with responsibility. According to the Child Protection Law, any individual or entity is legally obliged to notify the authorities of a child abuse case. Not doing so would constitute dereliction of duty. This is a powerful catalytic device that awakens a society to its innate ability to change its narrative for the better because child abuse is often a hidden menace. It takes place mostly out of view of society within the confines of a household, the victims are too young to speak up for themselves, and certain forms of child abuse such as psychological or sexual abuse leave no visible traces. These forms of subterfuge severely crimp external intervention strategies from reaching their goal. Unless there are overt instances of abuse, which are less common, cases of children being abused physically, psychologically or sexually come to light more clearly when a family member, relative, friend or neighbour gathers the courage to report them.
This community call to action is one of the powerful impetuses for the law to achieve its objectives. The more schools and people converge to create this groundswell, the sooner we will begin to see a society free of child abuse.