Children's Authority Appeals to Report Abuse to its Hotline
Recent reports have suggested that the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago failed to respond to a report of a child being used as a sex slave.
The Authority confirms that initial reports were made to its Hotline about the child, but these did not identify any concerns of child sexual abuse.
However, once that concern was identified following receipt of a media report yesterday, the Authority’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) was dispatched to investigate the new allegations made to the media.
The Authority has found child protection concerns and is taking steps to immediately address those concerns and ensure the child’s safety.
The Authority is appealing to the public to report all suspicions or incidents of abuse to our Hotline at 996 and 800-2014, as our intervention can only be initiated once a report is made.
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.
Make Your Child’s Safety a Priority
The Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is concerned about the increasing number of reports of children missing.
The Authority notes that children who run away from home are at the risk of being exposed to physical and sexual abuse from perpetrators, who will have increased access and opportunity. As a result, the Authority is appealing to parents and guardians to know their children's whereabouts and ensure that they are supervised at all times by a trusted adult.
Parents and guardians are reminded that maintaining open communication with children allows them to feel comfortable to report any incidents or concerns they may have.
Meanwhile, the Authority is calling on parents and guardians to ensure adequate measures are put in place for children's safety over the Carnival period.
The Authority has identified some tips to observe:
- Set boundaries about places children may go and enforce them
- Encourage children to check in with you frequently when they are not at home
- Monitor closely social media and cellular phone activity
- Observe changes in your child's behaviour which may reveal signs of abuse
- Know your children's friends and observe any new influences which may affect their behaviour
- Older children should not be given the responsibility to supervise younger ones
- When attending Carnival activities, provide young children with identification cards bearing their name, name of parent/guardian, address and telephone number (this should be placed on their person, e.g. pocket, pinned under shirt or around the wrist)
- Do not serve alcoholic beverages to childrenIf children are attending camps, be aware of the adults supervising them, their contact information and request the itinerary of events
- Monitor children at all times when at the beach or by the river. Never allow a child to go into the water alone
- Regardless of age, parents and guardians should talk to children about safety rules
For more information about the Children's Authority,visit www.ttchildren.org
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
- UNICEF’s Regional Director impressed with work done by Children’s Authority
- 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