Saudi Arabia: Statistics warn of increased violence against children

By Al Arabiya

A report issued by the Saudi Ministry of Social Affairs revealed that 45 percent of children in the kingdom are victims of different forms of violence, raising concerns about lack of awareness in the society.

“Children are increasingly subjected to violence whether at home or in the classroom and this is a very dangerous phenomenon,” psychologist Sanaa al-Howaili was quoted as saying by the Saudi newspaper al-Riyadh.

According to Howaili, the cases detected by the National Program for Family Security alone have reached 500 in 2011, compared to 292 in 2010.

“This shows the necessity of dealing with the roots of the problem through raising awareness about the right ways of treating children.”

Howaili explained that parents should change their upbringing approaches regardless of the reason that makes them violent with their children.

“It doesn’t matter whether the child is annoying or creative. A radical change in the behavior of the parents has to take place.”

Mistreatment on the part of parents, she added, have numerous negative repercussions that are reflected on the child’s future and personality.

“Mistreatment can lead to a remarkable delay in the child’s growth, demonstrated in the level of intelligence, attention, and pronunciation as well as low self-esteem, disturbed sleep, and depression.”

Children subjected to violence, Howaili pointed out, can become aggressive. This is mainly shown in the destruction of items around the house or the intentional infliction of harm upon others.

“They might even end up running away from the house and, in some cases, turning into criminals or terrorists.”

Awareness campaign, she stressed, should not be confined to parents since children are also subjected to violence in schools.

“The Ministry of Education has to take part in those campaigns since a large number of children are abused in the classroom whether verbally or physically.”

Violence, Howaili said, is not only restricted to abusing children.

“Neglecting children and ignoring their needs is also considered a form of violence.”

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