Parents Be Alert!
Parents and caregivers are advised that it is dangerous to leave children unattended in places and with people whom they may consider harmless.
The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is issuing the advice, as children begin their long vacation period.
The Authority notes that perpetrators of abuse tend to frequent places where they can have easy access to children. As such, the Authority is urging parents and caregivers to pay close attention to the adults their children interact with and to keep an open line of communication with children, so that they feel comfortable informing them of any inappropriate incidents.
Parents and guardians are also asked to allow their children to enjoy the holidays and not be placed with the burden of caring for their siblings. The Authority notes that too often unfortunate incidents take place when children are left to care for each other. The Authority advises that according to Section 4 of the Children Act, 2012, a person can also be charged with neglect for exposing a child “in a manner likely to cause that child suffering or injury to his physical, mental or emotional health”.
Meanwhile, the Authority commends members of the public who have highlighted cases of child abuse. It continues to urge citizens to report all incidents or suspicions of abuse to the Police at 999 or to the Authority’s hotline at 996 or 800-2014.
Children's Authority Appeals to the Media to be Sensitive and Responsible
The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is concerned that there is erroneous information being circulated about the death of a child at its Child Support Centre, which can cause further trauma to the child’s family.
The Authority is therefore appealing to the media to ensure that their coverage on the issue is dealt with in a sensitive and responsible manner, which should also respect the privacy of the family.
Since the child’s death on Sunday 18th June, the Authority has been providing therapeutic support and counselling to the children at the Centre as well as staff.
The Authority continues to work with the child’s family during their loss.
The media are reminded that the Child Support Centre is a place of safety for children who are in need of care and protection. As a result, its location should not be divulged in order to maintain the safety of the children.
Children's Authority Saddened by Death of Child
The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is deeply saddened by the unfortunate death of a child at our Child Support Centre.
At this time, the Authority is committed to the safety and well-being of the other children at the Centre and therapeutic support and counselling are being provided to the children as well as the staff at the Centre.
This situation is a reminder that despite consistent support and counselling, some of the children who are received into care are often troubled because they have undergone significant trauma.
The Authority is conducting investigations.
Children’s Authority in High Hopes Despite Challenges
The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago will this week mark two years since becoming operational.
Armed with a mandate to provide care and protection to the nation’s children, the Authority’s staff has been working tirelessly to address the needs of children who come to its attention.
Since May 18, 2015 to now, the organisation has received more than 40 thousand calls from the public. However, of those calls, 10 thousand have been identified as potential cases of child abuse. It must be noted that in some instances the Authority’s hotline may have received multiple reports of abuse regarding one child. Therefore, the investigation aspect of the Authority’s work was critical to identifying whether a child was at risk or a victim of abuse or neglect.
To date, almost 8 thousand cases are receiving attention from the Authority. So far over 3 thousand investigations have been completed and more than 700 families have been counselled.
Additionally, the Authority has licensed nine children’s homes and over 300 visits have been conducted at more than 40 Community Residences throughout Trinidad and Tobago, to ensure compliance with legislative standards.
As the organisation marks its second Anniversary, it is greatly aware that there is a distressing level of unmet needs. This has been exacerbated by the inadequacy of infrastructure, manpower, finances, accommodation for children in conflict with the law, transition homes, facilities for children with special needs, as well as a high case load and limited placement options for children in imminent danger.
Despite these drawbacks, the Authority is thankful for the support given by the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs) to help it deliver services to children and their families. The collaboration with various agencies within the child protection sector has also been critical to the Authority in delivering on its mandate.
The Authority has also increased public education on how to identify signs of child abuse and the role of parents and guardians in preventing child abuse. It is hoped that this outreach and continued partnership will bring about a positive change in the way children are cared for and protected.
Anyone who suspects child abuse can call the Police at 999 or the Authority’s hotlines at 996 or 800-2014.
Child Abuse Can Be Prevented
Preventing child abuse requires collaboration. As a result the Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is appealing to communities and families to work together, to provide safe, stable, and nurturing environments that are free from abuse and neglect.
Data collected by the Authority from May 2015 to December 2016, reveals that physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect continue to be the highest reported types of child abuse. During that period the Authority received almost 9,000 reports of abuse.
As part of its continued public education campaign, the Authority is joining in the national recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Authority plans to bring awareness of the role communities and families play in preventing child abuse and neglect, by highlighting how families and communities can keep children safe from abuse.
With the upcoming Easter holidays, parents and caregivers are reminded to observe the following tips to prevent child abuse:
- Minimise Opportunity - Eliminate or reduce "one on one" situations, to lower the risk of abuse.Seek help when under stress to help you parent effectively because it's so easy to cross the line.
- Talk about it – Often times, children may feel ashamed to report incidents of abuse. It is important that parents and caregivers maintain open communication with children to allow them to feel comfortable to report any incidents or concerns they may have.
- Stay Alert - Be wary of physical changes in your children (e.g. marks or redness on body; discharges when bathing or changing young children, pain or discomfort in any body part especially genitals).
- Know the non-physical signs of child abuse. Depression, fear or avoidance of a certain adult or place, difficulty trusting others or making friends, sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, bedwetting, nightmares, inappropriate sexual behaviour, poor hygiene, secrecy, and hostility.
- Talk to children about what is an "ok touch" - one that makes them feel happy and safe, and a touch that is "not ok" - one that hurts or makes them feel uncomfortable.
The Authority reminds the public that child protection is everyone's business, therefore, we all have a role to protect our children from perpetrators of abuse and nurture children in an environment that encourages their development.
All reports of abuse should be made to the Police at 999, the Authority's hotlines at 996 or 800-2014 or www.ttchildren.org