Every parent wants a safe, stimulating, and supportive nursery environment for their child where they can thrive academically and personally. Child protection is a universal concern and one that impacts the manner in which our societies are to evolve. As such, it is also essential that it is a coordinated effort between parents, teachers and all other relevant safeguarding professionals and agencies to ensure effectiveness.

Child Protection

Individuals who work with children in any capacity, whether directly or indirectly, have a key role to protect all till the age of 18 years and educate them, wherever possibly, of how to safeguard themselves. This must be done age and stage appropriately.

Here we will be elaborating on the role of nurseries, parents and how we must come together in a strong partnership to ensure that our children get the care, love and opportunities in life that they so rightly deserve.

Nurseries and Their Role in Child Protection as a Nurturing Cocoon

Early Childhood Centers and preschools such as Toddler Town British Nursery act as a nurturing cocoon for all children under their care with safeguarding procedures put in place under the center’s extensive Child Protection Policy and Procedures. They not only focus on a child’s growth and development but also diligently ensure that health and safety policies and procedures are at the core of their development & learning program.

At Toddler Town British Nursery, we have qualified and well-trained staff who are able to help children and families regarding child protection if and when needed. Our Child Protection Officer works closely with the teaching team to ensure all children are not only safe on the premises but are also able to take appropriate measures if any disclosure of abuse is made. Additionally, Toddler Town British Nursery also has a DHA-qualified nurse who monitors children’s attendance, health, and safety and as an added security feature, our premises are equipped with CCTV cameras covering all areas.

Child Protection Policy in the UAE

Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 concerning child rights, also known as ‘Wadeema’s Law’ mandates that ‘all children must be provided with appropriate living standards, access to health services, education, and equal opportunities in essential services and facilities without any kind of discrimination. Those who put children in danger, abandon them, neglect them, leave them without supervision, do not enroll them in school, or register them upon their birth will be subject to a prison sentence or a fine, or both’. The law applies to all children up to the age of 18 years. It protects children against all forms of negligence, exploitation, and physical and psychological abuse.

Your Guide to Child Protection

In accordance with the legal framework in the region for safeguarding, we have outlined helpful information regarding detection and disclosure of abuse.

Child abuse is any form of harm, mistreatment or lack of care directed towards children. This would include physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence, or emotional abuse including online bullying. Child abuse can occur regardless of age, gender, race, or ability. It is a crime, punishable by law. A stranger or even a person familiar to the child may commit this.

Child Abuse – What to Look Out For?

Practitioners closely monitor certain behaviors to ensure that children under their care are faring well in all environments. These behaviors are never assessed in isolation, and while there may be simple explanations for bumps, bruises, and other incidents, practitioners record them as best practice and thoroughly consider their context and background. Often a quick chat with the child’s caregiver at drop-off time can resolve a query regarding a suspicious bruise. For instance, toddlers who are just learning to walk may often have slight bumps on the head, as they learn to balance themselves. As such, practitioners are mindful when assessing a case of abuse and record signs and symptoms keeping the following in consideration.

  • Unexplained or suspicious injuries such as bruising, bites, or burns, particularly if located on a part of the body, which is not normally prone to such injuries.
  • The child discloses that he or she is being abused, or another person says they believe (or know) that abuse is occurring.
  • The child has an injury and no consistent explanation for why.
  • The child’s behavior changes significantly, over time or quite suddenly. He or she becomes quiet and withdrawn, or extremely aggressive.
  • The child refuses to remove clothing for normal activities or hygiene practices or sent in clothes covering up even in warm weather.
  • The child appears not to trust certain adults, a driver, an acquaintance, etc.
  • The child appears reluctant to make close friends.
  • The child displays inappropriate sexual awareness or behavior for their age.Nurseries & Parents Work Together to Safeguard Children

Disclosure or Detection of Abuse – What to Do Next?

If the child discloses abuse to you that means that they have established a relationship of trust and comfort. In this situation try to get more information without asking any leading questions and ensure that you record it in a manner that is non-threatening to the child. If they feel that you may inform others, there is a possibility that they would stop talking. Adopt a neutral approach when investigating abuse. Always ask open-ended questions when trying to get more information from the child and never promise to keep it a secret. Reassure them and support as needed.

Practitioners in early years settings are trained in using the 3 R’s in case of abuse- Recognizing it, Recording it and Responding appropriately to it. Trained professionals and authorities are involved as and when needed by the Child Protection Officer of the setting.

Keeping Our Children Informed- How Young is Too Young?

Parents and teachers need to inform children from an early age. This could potentially be when they start to communicate and are able to follow some basic safety guidelines and rules. Children as young as 2 years of age start to absorb and understand instructions, however we cannot expect them to handle risky situations in the same manner as we would wish them to. To enable them and teach them about personal safety we as care givers can use the following strategies.

  • Having a relationship based on listening and reciprocating- Children learn to be aware of potentially dangerous situations- saying ‘STOP’, reaching out to their key persons or even shouting to get someone’s attention, if they have a relationship based on trust with a significant adult. Every child deserves to have positive relationships, individuals they may approach when they need to talk to someone or feel unsafe.
  • Role modelling and demonstrating safe behaviours- Children tend to copy our actions more than what we ask of them verbally. So be a role model, respect each other’s personal spaces and let them know what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour.
  • Be consistent- Do not underestimate the power of repetition. Continue to have age and stage appropriate conversations so they may make sense of the world around them and use language that they can understand. Also, be mindful that the idea is to create awareness rather than instill fear in the child.
  • Encourage imaginative play and story-telling sessions- This can serve as great opportunities to talk to children about safety and who to reach out to. For example, Reading relevant stories. situation.

How to Report Child abuse in the UAE?

Depending on the case and the emirate that you are residing in there are a few ways in which you are able to report abuse. There is also an option available for individuals to report anonymously in a situation where they are uncomfortable to do so otherwise.

  • Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre Hotline: 116111 or [email protected]
  • Hemayati App (available on Android and iOS)
  • Community Development Authority- CDA Hotline: 800988
  • Dubai Foundation for Women and Children: 800111
  • In case of immediate risk and harm to any child, call the police directly at 999.

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