Parents and guardians reminded to keep children safe during holidays
The Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is again reminding parents and guardians to put measures in place to ensure the safety of their children during the Christmas holidays.
The Authority notes that with the closure of schools, parents and guardians should ensure that children are supervised at all times by a responsible and trusted adult. It has been shown that children are particularly vulnerable to abuse during school vacation and long weekends, as this may provide perpetrators with increased opportunities.
A child is a person under the age of 18, and it is the responsibility of parents and guardians to protect their children from harm.
The Authority is also appealing to parents and guardians to maintain open communication with their children, so that they feel comfortable reporting any incidents or concerns.
The public is urged to contact the Police at 999 or the Children's Authority at 996 or 800-2014 if they suspect a child is being ill-treated, neglected or abandoned; appears to be homeless or is frequently roaming the streets; is begging or is in the company of a criminal.
The Authority has identified some tips to observe to protect children over the holidays:
- Teach children what is an appropriate and an inappropriate touch and inform them to never keep inappropriate touching a secret.
- Children should always be supervised by an adult. Never leave young children to supervise themselves or each other.
- Get to know the adults and other children with whom your child interacts. Be aware that there are adults who attempt to befriend a child with the intention of later engaging the child in sexual activity.
- Make time to talk to children about their day and listen to their concerns about an adult who interacts with them. Also pay attention to your child's behavioural changes like mood, sleeping and eating habits, which may indicate some type of abuse.
- Speak to children about safely surfing the internet and when applicable and age appropriate, use parental controls designed to protect children from inappropriate content they may see online.
Children's Authority appoints new Director
The Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is pleased to announce the appointment of Safiya Noel as its new Director, with effect from October 1, 2016.
Stephanie Daly, S.C., Chairman of the Board of Management of the Authority said, "Ms. Noel was selected following a transparent, competitive and robust recruitment process".
Ms. Noel has over ten years' senior management experience in the public and private sectors and has been a part of the Authority's leadership team. She has also worked extensively with children, particularly vulnerable groups.
Former Director of the Authority, Sharifa Ali-Abdullah will provide support to Ms. Noel over the next few weeks, to facilitate a smooth transition.
Children’s Authority calls on parents and guardians to ensure safety of their children
The Authority is appealing to parents and guardians to maintain open communication with their children so that they feel comfortable reporting any incidents or concerns.
Parents and guardians are reminded that they have a responsibility to ensure their children’s safety, at all times.
If the alleged incident highlighted on social media is true, the Authority commends the mother for being proactive in protecting her child. However, the Authority is calling on the public to report incidents to the Police and not engage in vigilante justice as the Police is responsible for criminal investigations.
With respect to the role of the Authority, under the Children Act, 2012, the Authority is mandated to investigate all reports of abuse. Once a report of child abuse or mistreatment is brought to the Authority’s attention, the investigation process is initiated to substantiate or not substantiate the allegations with a view to determining whether the child is in need of care and protection and what interventions would be appropriate in the child’s best interest.
In order to substantiate a report, the Authority’s investigation officer usually conducts at least three main investigations which involve a home visit that includes interviews with the child’s parents and other relatives, a school visit and community enquiries. In some cases, additional investigative work is done to ascertain the facts of the case, so that a fully informed recommendation can be made.
Children’s Authority calls for an end to irresponsible reporting of children
The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is appealing to the media to desist from identifying children who are victims and/or witnesses of a crime
The Authority notes that the media continue to publish images and information that identify children, including their names, ages and the community in which they reside.
This practice places children and their family at risk of retribution and harm and subjects them to even further trauma and humiliation. It can also negatively impact the child’s recovery and may compromise related criminal proceedings.
The Authority is once again calling on the media to act responsibly in their reporting of incidents involving children, including those who are victims. The media must at all times take the necessary steps to minimise psychological trauma to children and exercise discretion in the degree of explicit detail contained in reports concerning child victims.
The Authority reminds media managers that the guide for journalists, recently published by the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) and UNICEF, states that the media are “partners in protecting children’s rights”. As a result, the Authority is hopeful that the guidelines provided by ACM will be adhered to when reporting on children’s issues, especially those in need of care and protection.
UNICEF’s Regional Director impressed with work done by Children’s Authority
UNICEF's Regional Director, Latin America and the Caribbean has applauded the Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago for building a solid and robust organisation.
María Cristina Perceval, who was recently appointed to the post visited the head office of the Authority on Thursday 11th August, 2016. She was accompanied by Aida Oliver, UNICEF's Deputy Regional Director and Khin-Sandi Lwin, Representative, UNICEF Office for the Eastern Caribbean Area.
Mrs. Perceval was also in high praise of Stephanie Daly, S.C., Chairman of the Board of Management of the Authority, whom she noted was well-known in the region for her work in promoting the rights of children. She added that Mrs. Daly was truly an inspiration and looked forward to collaborating with her during her tenure as Regional Director.
During the visit to the Authority's Head Office, the UNICEF team toured the Registry Department to get a first-hand view of the Authority's process for receiving reports of children in need of care and protection. Mrs. Perceval noted that the Authority's data collection and child protection system was impressive and should be replicated throughout the Region.
Both Mrs. Daly and Mrs. Perceval noted that a key goal for their respective organisations was to change attitudes towards child protection and develop a culture of prevention, which would reduce abuse – always a better outcome than responding after harm is caused.
Mrs. Perceval is a former Senator in Argentina and prior to joining UNICEF she served as Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations.
From left: Khin-Sandi Lwin, Representative, UNICEF Office for the Eastern Caribbean Area; María Cristina Perceval, UNICEF Regional Director, Latin America and the Caribbean and Stephanie Daly, S.C., Chairman of the Board of Management of the Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago
- Parents reminded to keep children safe during the holidays
- The Board of Management of the Children’s Authority thanks Sharifa Ali-Abdullah for her sterling tenure as Director
- Children’s Authority calls on parents and guardians to be supportive
- The public is warned that child pornography is an offence