Ministry of Education urges schools to report cases of child abuse

February 26, 2008

The Ministry of Education has sent notices to schools across Saudi Arabia directing them to inform the National Society for Human Rights of any suspected cases of child abuse at home, according to the head teacher of a Jeddah girls’ school, the Arab News reported yesterday.

Fahad Al-Asmari, vice principal of a boys’ school in Madinah, said that children in Saudi Arabia are not aware of speaking out about abuse and are unable to clarify whether an act against them is abuse or not. Al-Asmari urged the Ministry of Education to run campaigns educating students how to inform and speak about abuse.

Laila, a kindergarten teacher in Riyadh, said that her school is currently holding lectures instructing teachers how to deal with cases of abuse. “This is the first time that they are holding these lectures,” she told the Arab News, adding that their results are yet to be seen.

Samira Abbas, a sociologist at Al-Maharat Center, expressed concern that abuse against children tends to be hushed up and never made public. She noted that abuse at home can be done by housekeepers as well as parents.

When asked how to deal with such cases, she said that they should contact one of the parents and explain the dangers of child abuse. “It is rare that the two parents are abusive and that is a positive point,” she told the Arab News.

According to Al-Watan newspaper, the Ministry of Education is currently carrying out a field study and asking schools to provide details of abuse cases that they have dealt with over the past four years.