The Children’s Authority calls for national discussion on changing attitudes towards children and child abuse
The Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago extends condolences to the family of two- year-old Jacob Antonio Bastaldo who died at the weekend. While no report on this incident was made to the Authority and the exact cause of death is still to be confirmed, there are concerns of alleged abuse due to marks of violence found on the child's body.
In the Authority's Nine Months and Counting Statistical Bulletin, physical abuse represented the third leading category of abuse reported. 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.
During the nine month period, May 18, 2015 to February 17, 2016, the Authority received approximately 100 reports of children between the ages of 0-3 years who were physically abused.
As a result, the Authority is again appealing to parents and guardians to find more creative and effective ways of disciplining children. The Authority recognises that some parents and guardians are under extreme stress, have little support and may resort to corporal punishment. However, 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.
Meanwhile, the Authority has intervened in the case of a 14-year old girl who recently gave birth at hospital. When the Authority received the report, its Emergency Response Team was dispatched to visit the child and her baby. The Authority is providing the necessary psychosocial support and counselling to the teen mother. Respecting the sensitivity and confidentiality required in dealing with the matter, the Authority can advise that both children are healthy and in a safe place.
The Authority is again calling on parents and guardians to be vigilant with their children, due to the increasing number of child sexual abuse reports. To date, of the 1,000 cases of sexual abuse reported to the Authority, 142 children were in sexual relationships with adult men, with 61 of them becoming pregnant or have had a child.
The Authority is of the view that this trend must not be allowed to continue and discussions must begin to change public attitude towards children, their rights and the need to end child abuse.
Children's Authority advises the President of Single Fathers' Association to direct his concerns to the Police
The Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago categorically denies the allegations made by Mr. Rhondall Feeles, President of the Single Fathers' Association that it has acted inappropriately in discharging its duties.
In fact the Authority is of the view that Mr. Feeles should direct his concerns regarding the arrest of a father, to the Police. In light of his continued allegations, the Authority believes it is necessary to state the facts, which are as follows:
- The child was not removed by the Children's Authority but by the Police under section 45 of the Children Act, 2012.
- The Authority has had communications with the father, providing information about the well-being of his child while the police investigations were being conducted.
- Given that the other children would have been alone upon the arrest of the father; the Police requested that the Authority receive the children into care, in accordance with Section 22 of the Children's Authority Act. The Authority, therefore, had no option but to receive the two children into care.
- The Authority's Emergency Response Team facilitated the removal of the other two children and ensured that they were settled and will continue to follow up with counselling and support for the child who is due to write the SEA exam.
- The Authority does not conduct criminal investigations. The Police are responsible for criminal investigations. The Police investigations are independent of the Authority and the Authority cannot interfere with Police investigations.
The Authority remains committed to protecting children, as it is mandated to do.
Children’s Authority responds to claims made by the Single Fathers’ Association
The Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago believes it necessary to issue the following statement, in response to allegations made by the President of the Single Fathers' Association of Trinidad and Tobago about the Authority's processes when it receives children into care.
In fact, the Authority has been in regular discussion with Mr. Rhondell Feeles and since April 12, 2016, a meeting was scheduled for Thursday 28th April, 2016 to discuss strategies to work together in the best interest of children and their families. The Authority, therefore, is baffled by the allegations made by Mr. Feeles, since every opportunity is sought to engage in dialogue and address his concerns.
With respect to the placement of children, the Authority has had to receive over 100 children into care since proclamation. These children are at places of safety, Children's Homes, in foster care or with a fit person. The practice has been to contact family members to provide updates on the child's well-being.
Prior to making an application to the Court, the Authority engages the child's non-offending parent(s) and other family members/relatives during its investigative and assessment processes. Once the matter is before the Court, the Court in its discretion, will determine whether a family member should be permitted access to a child.
In fact, though not one of the Authority's mandated responsibilities, given its philosophy of maintaining family ties and reuniting children with their families, the Authority has facilitated close to 150 supervised visits between children and family members from all over the country.
Regarding the investigation process, the Authority conducts a psychosocial inquiry of the child and family in question, while the police focuses on the criminal investigation.
The Authority may conduct a child interview which is an important part of the investigation process. Staff members of the Authority have been specially trained in conducting such interviews in a child-friendly and non-threatening manner to minimise trauma to the child. Further details about the Authority's investigation process can be found on our website at www.ttchildren.org.
The Authority looks forward to continued collaboration with Mr. Feeles, to enhance the outcomes for children and their families in need of care and protection in Trinidad and Tobago.
Two Community Residences get the nod of approval from the Children’s Authority to operate
The Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago has approved the first two residence licences to operate a Children's Home.
Since proclamation of the package of children's legislation on May 18, 2015, the 50 Community Residences were invited to apply for a residence licence to operate a Community Residence. The Authority received 28 applications and yesterday the Couva Children's Home and Crisis Nursery and the Haven of Hope Children's Home received notification that their applications were approved.
Prior to proclamation, the Authority had been working with the 50 Community Residences to assist them in meeting the requirements for licensing.
The Authority extends congratulations to the residences on this landmark achievement and thanks the Board and Management of the two residences for providing care and protection to vulnerable children.
Meanwhile, the Authority has released its Sexual Abuse Report, which highlights cases of child sexual abuse received within its first nine months of operations.
During the period, 915 cases of child sexual abuse were reported. This means that child sexual abuse accounts for one in every five cases of abuse reported to the Authority.
Children’s Authority appeals to parents and guardians to supervise their children
The Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago views as disturbing, the video currently being circulated on social media of a child in the company of persons firing guns into the air.
The public is reminded that there are significant penalties in the Children Act 2012 for a person who fails to take reasonable precautions to guard against a child having access to arms and ammunition and suffers injury or death or causes serious or grievous bodily harm to another person.
The Authority is once again appealing to parents and guardians to supervise their children and be extremely vigilant in ensuring their safety.
- Children’s Authority says ensure safety of children during Easter holidays
- Director of the Children’s Authority calls for greater support for women
- Statistical Bulletin: Nine Months and Counting - May 18th 2015 to February 17th 2016
- Children’s Authority and Police continue probe into child abuse incident