Dubai has launched a new 24-hour helpline to allow members of the public to report cases of child abuse.
The initiative comes as officials responded to new issues thrown up by on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Due to the outbreak, pupils across the country are studying from home via online learning programmes.
Authorities said this raised the possibility of more vulnerable youngsters being exposed to a greater threat of abuse while away from school.
Huraiz bin Huraiz, chief executive of the Community Development Authority, said maintaining children’s safety during the government’s stay at home order was critical.
"A child protection programme is essential at all times but in times such as this you want to double check to ensure everything is going well," he told The National.
“We wanted a single hotline in Dubai where the community knows who to reach in case there is a [case of] assault or abuse.
“If it is an emergency, we can go and investigate.”
Officials said the new hotline – which can be reached on 800988 – would be managed by CDA staff in conjunction with other emirate authorities.
Each case would be initially be evaluated by the CDA team before being assigned to a child protection officer for further action.
Officials said that depending on the specifics of the case, staff would work alongside Dubai Police, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, the Personal Status Court, the Disciplinary Court and Public Prosecution officials.
Authorities emphasised the hotline would contribute to the creation of a centralised database in Dubai, helping to monitor and follow up on instances of neglect or violence against children.
Under the UAE’s Child Protection Law, suspected cases of abuse must be reported.
Legislation also gives child protection officers the authority to remove a child from an abusive home.
Prior to the hotline’s creation, abuse cases could be reported to a number of authorities, making difficult for officials to maintain a complete picture.
“Our social workers are available around the clock and if the situation requires [it] they can be physically there to ensure children are living the lives they deserve and are well protected,” said Mr bin Huraiz.
“The hotline is an assurance to the public that this service is always there for them.”