Procedure to Report Child Abuse to the authorities in Saudi Arabia

National Family Safety Program (NFSP) is a consultant program that covers all the parts from protection against domestic violence to child abuse and women empowerment. Maha Al-Muneef is the director and founder of the NFSP program. She is recognized by the Forbes Magazine as a very prominent woman behind changing the world. It was launched on 18 November 2005 as a national family safety program to perform as a main portal between the Saudi authorities to overcome any complications occurring during work. The NFSP’s vision is to promote the safety, security, and unity of affected families. It also aims to be prominent in the affairs of domestic violence by providing protective and supporting programs, as well as increasing the level of responsiveness and partnerships with specialists, public and private authorities and worldwide organizations to provide a secure family atmosphere in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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How does the NSFP try to help prevent child abuse? The NFSP provides consultation on the telephone for children, parents, and caretakers on problems regarding aggression and mistreatment, emotional and mental health, relations, institutional problems, sexual problems, child labor, child abuse and ignorance. They particularly counsel children below 18 years of age through their toll-free number that is 116111. They also provide awareness and arrange counseling programs on household aggression that are delivered by professionals. They give lectures, seminars, workshops, and discussions. They provide special training to their staff in different fields. Mostly the victims are not ready to speak about their family violence because they think that it is a secret and not to be shared with others.

 How does the NFSP help rescue individuals from abusive situations?  The plan of NSFP is to authorize the public associations and NGO’s to give their best performance to people, introduce informative projects, build capabilities and provide human and technical resources.  They direct the suffering families and support them through psychotherapy and refer them immediately to specialized professionals, providing programs in main hospitals and through the Saudi Child Helpline. They focus more on avoidance rather than safety. They are interlinked with the ministry of public affairs, police force, and hospitals providing immediate participation.  Therefore, they are associated with all governmental organizations.

But at the public level, the major challenge is to provide awareness on parenting, women and children’s rights. It will be a time-consuming task to change the perceptions concerning violence, and rights. Additionally, the accessibility of public services for the sufferers is a great challenge because of the very large area of the Kingdom. Last week, the Cabinet permitted the child safety act. But before this, there was no act prevailing for children safety and family security in the Kingdom. This new act will safeguard the casualties and penalize the criminal more efficiently.

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What challenges does the program face? There are multiple challenges faced by them at the family level, community level, and the country level.  The incomplete facts and figures of incidents, risk factors, and consequences are the main challenge, due to the restricted number of studies pertaining to abuse and violence in Saudi Arabia. Sometimes agencies provide poor services to organizations. There is uncertainty regarding the services that each agency is providing.

Source: Arab News

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