The Community Development Authority (CDA) in Dubai has launched the "Friendly Touch" campaign to raise awareness on various forms of physical, moral and sexual harassment faced by children with disabilities. Organised with the support of the Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy, the initiative is part of CDA's efforts to enhance the standard of social protection in Dubai and provide support to people with disabilities and support their integration within the community.
Sheikh Maktoum bin Butti Al Maktoum, CEO of Social Care in the Community Development Authority, said: "The Friendly Touch campaign aims at educating the community about the negative aspects of harassment and their ill effects on both the family of the child and the society. CDA is committed to launching community-based initiatives that will contribute to social development and enhance the services for children with disabilities to activate their role in the community.”
"Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy plays a vital role in supporting people with disabilities and we are pleased to co-operate with them for the campaign. We aspire to strengthen cooperation and partnership with government departments and institutions to ensure the protection of all segments of society,” added Sheikh Maktoum.
Dr Sabha Al Shamsi, Senior Executive Advisor to the Education Programme at the Emirates Foundation, said: "Our support to this campaign is in line with Emirates Foundation's commitment to protect children with disabilities from abuse, and its consequent negative social and psychological impact. We thank CDA for its efforts in educating families about protecting their children and building a healthier society".
Since its launch, the campaign held two discussion sessions led by Dr Eman Gaad, Consultant at CDA. Dr Gaad gave a comprehensive presentation on child harassment, its psychological and social consequences, and how the family can prevent this from happening through dialogue and appropriate advice that would help children enhance their self-confidence.
"Friendly Touch" highlights the types of harassment, signs and symptoms demonstrated by harassed children including recurring bad dreams, refusal to eat, sudden changes in mood, writings and drawings with sexual overtones, and various other features and unusual behavior.
The campaign also addresses best practices in dealing with these cases, the importance of early intervention, the role of educational and judicial entities in deterring perpetrators, the key role of the media in spreading awareness about the issue, and the impact of harassment on society and ways of prevention, treatment in addition to some recommendations. The response to the campaign has been strong with all segments of the society reacting positively to the message that is being highlighted through ‘Friendly Touch.’
The "Friendly Touch" campaign, which will continue till January 2012, will include 18 awareness sessions.