Abu Dhabi hospital hosts series of lectures marking Child Abuse Prevention Month
Abu Dhabi, 22 April 2013: Protecting children and recognising the signs of child abuse were the topics under discussion at a series of lectures held at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) yesterday. The seminars, which were attended by health workers and others with a professional interest in children's welfare, formed part of the Abu Dhabi hospital's activities around Child Abuse Prevention Month, which is marked by the institution every April.
Among the issues addressed during the talks were how the concepts of child abuse were being redefined, with psychological bullying and emotional neglect posing as much of an issue as actual physical assaults. The speakers identified how these ‘silent' forms of abuse could have serious consequences in later life, leading to dysfunctional relationships and substance abuse problems.
“Whatever form it takes, abuse during a person's formative years can have tremendous impact on their health and social lives as adults. It can lead to difficulties with victims making and sustaining relationships and has been linked to an increased likelihood of substance misuse,” said Dr. Yasser Nakhlawi – Chairman of The Pediatric Institute at SKMC at SKMC. “Designating the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month gives us the chance to heighten people's awareness of this condition and allows us to take steps to eradicate it from our communities,” she added.
The lectures sought to dispel many of the myths around child abuse, with the aim of better preparing those whose work involves them coming into contact with children and young people. The concept that only ‘bad' mothers and fathers abuse their children were discounted, as many parents, it was said, struggle with mental health and psychological issues of their own. The notion that abuse only happens in poor families or economically deprived neighbourhoods was also discredited, with attendees hearing that the phenomenon crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines.
Another of the myths exploded during the sessions was that abused children always become abusers themselves, with many adult survivors of child abuse having a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through. However, Dr. Yasser Nakhlawi – Chairman of The Pediatric Institute at SKMC cautioned that the statistics did show that that abused children were more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously playing out what they experienced as children.
“In many cases, it has been shown that the behaviour is a learned activity that is repeated, with the victim becoming a perpetrator themselves. This perpetuates the abuse through the generations and it becomes a never-ending cycle,” said Dr. Yasser Nakhlawi – Chairman of The Pediatric Institute at SKMC. “A major part of the lectures at SKMC focused on the signs and symptoms of child abuse in order to create a better awareness and impart the necessary observational skills to break this cycle,” she added.
SKMC's lecture program was concluded with a discussion acknowledging that the issue of child abuse was becoming a lot more open in the region and is now a topic that is no longer being swept under the carpet. It was agreed that this new-found openness was the best weapon in reducing its incidence. SKMC is continuing its Child Abuse Prevention Month activities up until the beginning of March and posting notices throughout its buildings explaining how patients, staff and visitors can do their part to help keep children safe and eradicate the scourge of child abuse from the community.