‘Kanaf’ discusses mechanisms that will guide first-of-its-kind child protection centre in the UAE

Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi

8 partnering entities brainstorm procedural plan for Kanaf Child Protection Centre
Hanadi Al Yafei: Grounded in scientific methodology, Kanaf will see the implementation of best global child protection standards and practices

For immediate release
Sharjah, December 7, 2020

The Child Safety Department (CSD), an affiliate of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA) in Sharjah, recently held a meeting with the partners of the Kanaf Child Protection Centre, which will be established in Sharjah for child victims of physical or sexua l abuse, aged 0 – 18 years.

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of SCFA, had called for the establishment of Kanaf in April to unify protection mechanisms for children who have faced abuse, and ensure their safety through access to the required legal, social and emotional support.

Held remotely, the meeting began with a presentation of the results of a situational analysis of Sharjah’s current child protection and safety measures, based on the European Barnahus Quality Standards, and which built on the outcomes of various meetings the Child Safety Department has held with the project’s partners and other relevant entities.

The meeting outlined existing procedures for dealing with child abuse cases in Sharjah and the role of judicial officers and the languages available to update children and families about the legal aspects and procedures of their cases, as well as the methods used in assessment and treatment. Participants also explored the use of digital management software used by partners and skills development opportunities for professionals.

Attendees discussed the current challenges faced at their organisations and how these can be remedied, and proposed new measures and protocols the Kanaf Centre will implement, identifying specific stages and identifying the roles of each partner entity, including forensic examination procedures, medical and psychological treatment, and the need for providing a unified digital platform.

Attendees also discussed parents’ and guardians’ varying commitment in following up on the child’s condition with the relevant authorities, as well as ways of liaising with partner institutions to receive children in a child-friendly environment that will ensure them maximum privacy and comfort, with the support of social workers and psychologists. They also highlighted the need for specific measures to ensure the safety and comfort of children with disabilities and special needs.

Senior officials at the meeting included HE Judge Salem Ali Matar Al Hosani, President of the Sharjah Federal Sharia Court; Dr. Safia Al Khaja, Director of Al Qassimi Women’s and Children’s Hospital; Dr. Walid Khalid Al Hammadi, Director of Juvenile Prosecution at Sharjah Public Prosecution; Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, Director of CSD; Amina Al-Rifai, Director of the Child Protection Department at Sharjah Social Services Department; Colonel Yousuf bin Harmoul, Director of Sharjah Police Comprehensive Stations Department; Major Dr. Jaber Al-Suwaidi, Director of the Criminal Investigation Branch of Wasit Comprehensive Police Station;
Dr. Fatima Muhammad Al Khumairi, Head of Forensic Medicine Department at the Ministry of Justice; Khaled Al Kathiri, Child Helpline Officer at Sharjah Social Services Department; and Mohammed Al Shaer, Advisor at Department of Family Development Centers at SCFA.

Establishment of the first-of-its-kind child protection centre in the UAE
Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, Director of Child Safety Department, said: “We are implementing a scientific methodology for the establishment of Kanaf, in cooperation with partner organisations to ensure that only the highest standards and best global practices will be offered by the centre. Our comprehensive situational analysis study mapped the existing legal, social and psychological services in Sharjah, which we aim to develop further. We are also keen on benefitting from the experiences of existing child protection centres in the USA and European nations that follow the Barnahus models, namely UK, Sweden and Finland.”

Al Yafei further stated that the establishment of the first-of-its-kind child protection centre in the UAE reflects the dedicated efforts of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi in ensuring that children in the emirate receive the attention and care they need to heal from trauma in a safe environment.

Brainstorming the project plan
The meeting included a brainstorming session where partners conceptualised and proposed procedures to be followed at Kanaf, identified best channels to report cases of abuse and mechanisms for investigation, treatment, and follow-up, and emphasized the importance of clarifying the roles of partner entities and agreeing upon a unified institutional culture that reflects the common goals of partner institutions.

Participants also proposed the possibility of Kanaf receiving not only victims of abuse, but also children who commit acts of abuse, since the latter require care and rehabilitation as well.

Participants agreed that Kanaf can rely on the existing mechanisms in place for reporting cases of child abuse through the Sharjah Social Services Department’s Child helpline for referrals.

The discussions also touched upon human resources capabilities including providing dedicated child protection experts, the need for statistics and data collection was to improve budgeting, as well as developing a well-rounded marketing plan prior to the launch of the centre to familiarise the target audience with Kanaf’s core objectives and functions.

Attendees underscored the importance of implementing hypothetical scenarios that mimic real-life cases prior to the centre’s launch to enable staff and management assess the strengths and opportunities for development, and additional requirements of the project. Participants called for a residential-style building design located within the heart of the city to further strengthen its child-friendly mandate.