Social workers in Sharjah are receiving extra training on how to handle child sex abuse cases, it has been announced.
The 300-hour training programme for psychologists, social workers and investigators in the emirate helps them handle cases involving children that are victims of violence or sexual assault.
Kanaf Child Protection Centre, a multi-agency child protection organisation affiliated with the Child Safety Department (CSD), launched the programme in May and will continue throughout 2025.
The 20 workshops, to be held in-person, will be led by Dr Bana Bou-Zubon, the head of Kanaf's mental health department.
It is aimed at staff directly involved in child cases, including the police, prosecution service, social services, courts, forensic medicine, family development centres and child protection units at schools.
"Addressing child victims of assaults on their dignity and innocence demands a high level of expertise in health, psychology, mentality, and emotion,” said Hanadi Al Yafei, director of CSD and head of Kanaf's higher committee, said in a statement.
“Our training project is a key step in unifying our team's skills and enhancing our collaborative efforts, aligning with global best practices in child protection.”
Workshops cover topics including listening techniques specifically tailored for children who are victims of violence or sexual assault.
They also include training in writing social, psychological, medical, and legal reports, and in behavioural therapy for children and teenagers.
One method used in the programme includes the use of anatomical dolls.
This approach was first introduced in the early 1980s, and enables children to 'show' rather than 'tell' what happened.
It is best used when limited verbal skills or emotional issues, such as embarrassment or fear of telling, interfere with direct verbal description.
Employing the Socratic questioning method during child forensic interviews is also being taught.
This method involves using questions that help explore and clarify ideas and identify behaviours that may be contributing to the difficulties children have been through.
The programme additionally provides training on multiple therapies for child victims such as play therapy, psychodrama therapy, art therapy, behavioural therapy, and cognitive-behavioural therapy, involving parents in the process.
The type of therapy provided to a child depends on their diagnosis and needs.
“We believe that every child deserves a dignified and safe life, and our role is to provide a supportive and motivating environment for their rehabilitation and integration into society."