Media Releases

Children’s Authority urges parents and guardians to find alternative forms of discipline

Date: 2015-07-13

The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is horrified and strongly condemns the actions of the person responsible for humiliating the child, as revealed in a video clip, now in the public domain.

The Authority has been in contact with the Police to substantiate whether the video originates in Trinidad and Tobago. Up to the time of preparing this Release, neither the Child Protection Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service nor the Authority had received any report of the incident.  Anyone with information on the child or the alleged abuser, should contact the Authority’s hotline at 996 or 800-2014.

Since the Authority became fully operational on May 18th 2015, of the 748 reports received to date, 145 cases are related to children who have been physically abused.

Although Section 4 of the Children Act 2012 permits only parents (and guardians) to apply ‘reasonable’ corporal punishment of children while forbidding its use by anyone else, the reports of physical abuse against children are often far outside anything permissible. The Authority endorses the Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development’s call to find more creative and effective ways of disciplining children.

Through the Authority’s investigation of cases, we recognise that some parents and guardians are under extreme stress and have little support and may resort to corporal punishment.  Research shows that corporal punishment teaches children that hitting is an acceptable response to anger. It is therefore necessary to teach our children how to manage anger without violence.

The Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development will be running parenting workshops across the country. These are designed to help parents and guardians identify the stressors that lead them to choose inappropriate ways of disciplining children, as well as help them to develop skills to deal with undesirable behaviour.  We encourage parents to attend these workshops.

Meanwhile, the Authority has already assessed six of the seven girls who were allegedly physically abused at the Women’s Prison and is preparing treatment plans to inform the continued care for these girls, including alternative placement.

The Authority recognises that establishing appropriate facilities to accommodate both children displaying challenging behaviours and children in conflict with the law is critical.  The Children’s Authority, therefore stands ready and committed to support all initiatives to ensure that adequate accommodation and care is provided to children in custody.

The Authority notes that preventing child abuse is everyone’s responsibility and urges the public toreport any incidents of abuse that come to their attention.