As a parent it is impossible to understand how a mother or father could hurt their own children.
Most people are profoundly protective of their offspring, which is the way it should be.
It therefore surprises me to know that not every parent feels this way.
Why some would abuse or exploit their own children is beyond me, but there is abundant evidence that cruel and inhuman mistreatment takes place.
For example, figures from the UAE show that parents were responsible for 98 per cent of child abuse cases received by the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children last year.
In 2018 the foundation received 1,027 cases, including 52 child abuse cases.
It provided shelter and care for 33 children, 54pc of whom were Emiratis.
And among those victims, 83pc were abused by their father and 15pc were abused by their mother.
Abuse comes in all shapes and forms – and does not have to involve physical violence.
The Dubai foundation found that the most common type of abuse children suffered at the hands of their parents was emotional and verbal.
However, other forms included physical, financial and sexual abuse.
“We received cases of parents insulting their children or physically abusing them by kicking, burning and assaulting them,” said director of the Care and Social Services Department Ganima Al Bahri.
“We noticed some fathers neglected their children by not getting birth certificates for them, which in turn affected their education and well-being.
“Eight per cent of the cases received last year were of sexual abuse.”
It’s heartbreaking under any circumstances to hear that children can suffer in such a way, but even more so when this suffering takes place at the hands of their parents.
We need to make sure that systems are in place to protect children, who are among the most vulnerable sections of society.
This is particularly true when we share the world with human traffickers, criminals who profit from trading in innocent – often unsuspecting – people.
It was great to read this week that a four-year plan to combat people trafficking was being launched by Bahrain this year, in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration.
We must ensure that strategies adopted also focus on the threat posed to children by the trafficking industry.
The foundation in Dubai received eight cases of human trafficking last year – and five of those were children under the age of 18.
Traffickers forged passports to make it appear the children were older than they really were, which is how they were able to enter the country without raising suspicion.
The five trafficking victims were girls aged just 13, 14 and 15 – and more than half were sexually exploited.
Children targeted were largely from the remote villages of East Asia and their families were made to believe the girls would be given decent jobs in hotels, beauty shops or as maids.
But when the children arrived, they would be forced to work in the sex industry.
It’s so sad, it truly is.
You never want to see a child hurt and certainly not by their parents, people who are meant to look after them and love them the most.