Children’s Authority says ensure safety of children during Easter holidays
As the number of child abuse cases keeps rising, the Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (CA) is once again appealing to parents and guardians to ensure the safety of their children during the school holidays.
In just over 10 months since becoming operational, the Authority has received 4,857 valid cases of children in need of care and protection.
The Authority notes that particularly during school vacation and long weekends, there is a significant increase in cases of child abuse. Therefore, parents and guardians are being urged to ensure their children are left in the care of a responsible and trusted adult, whether it is at home or at a camp.
With the passage of the Children Act 2012, a child is defined as someone under the age of 18, with parents and guardians ultimately responsible for the care and protection of their children.
The Authority has identified some tips parents and guardians should observe to protect children over the Easter holidays:
- Inform children to never keep inappropriate touching a secret or any secrets in general.
- Stay within arm's reach of children near water (pools, rivers and beaches); do not leave children unsupervised.
- Get to know the adults and other children that your child interacts with. Observe their relationships.
- Teach children not to accept anything (money, food, toys, etc) from strangers.
- Know who your child's friends and associates are- speak to your child about peer pressure and ways to avoid it.
- Put away sharp objects / tools such as knives out of the reach of children.
- Prohibit use of /access to the stove, matches, lighters, open flame etc to avoid burns.
- Keep poisonous substances and chemicals out of the reach of children.
- Speak to children about safely surfing the internet and when applicable and age appropriate, use parental controls which are designed to protect children from inappropriate content they may see online.
Director of the Children’s Authority calls for greater support for women
As the country joins with the rest of the world in celebrating International Women's Day, tomorrow March 8, Mrs. Sharifa Ali-Abdullah, Director of the Children's Authority, is calling for "appropriate and urgent interventions to assist women who have very little or no support".
Her call comes following the release of the Authority's Statistical Bulletin– Nine Months and Counting... which shows a recurring trend that women, mothers in particular, continue to be identified as the main perpetrator of abuse against children.
Mrs. Ali-Abdullah says immediate attention is required, as it is symptomatic of the stresses that women are experiencing in managing households. She adds that "it is important to take stock of this issue and to understand the stressors and the contributing factors, to stem this disturbing trend". Mrs. Ali-Abdullah notes that "of the persons identified by callers as the alleged perpetrator of physical abuse, 40% of those were the child's mother". Therefore, she appeals to "women's organisations, in particular, to consider this among their priority issues and partner with the State in providing interventions aimed at reducing the high incidence of abuse in this country".
The Authority's Director highlights that the UN Secretary General's message rings true, as "women's empowerment leads to society's advancement".
Mrs. Ali-Abdullah states, "The Children's Authority will champion informed decision making and is hopeful that policy makers and other state and non-state actors will use these statistics to inform their interventions".
Statistical Bulletin: Nine Months and Counting - May 18th 2015 to February 17th 2016
Children’s Authority and Police continue probe into child abuse incident
The Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago and the Child Protection Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service responded to the story of a child with injuries about his body after it appeared on Facebook, despite the report not being made to the Authority's Hotline.
In light of the reports, both the Police and the Authority conducted a home visit and concluded that the child was not in imminent danger to justify immediate removal, as the injuries that were shown on social media and on a television Talk Show Programme yesterday evening, were injuries sustained last November.
At this time, the Police and the Authority are conducting their required investigations in order to determine the appropriate interventions that will be required.
During its investigative process, the Authority at all times considers the rights of the parents to be heard and the right to a fair hearing.
The Authority reminds the public that it treats all matters with the sensitivity and confidentiality they require.
Over 4,000 cases and over 300 children rescued by the Authority in nine months
After nine months of operations the Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (the Authority) is managing some 4,158 cases of children in need of care and protection. This is the highest number of cases to be reported in the country's history. The Authority notes that the figure is an indication of the public heeding the call to report child abuse, which has led to children being brought to its attention.
The Authority will release its nine-month Statistical Report later this week, which will provide details of the types of abuse reported as well as demographic information, which it expects will inform immediate policy interventions. The Report will reveal that the highest categories of child protection issues are sexual abuse, neglect, physical abuse and children lacking care and guardianship.
The Report will also show that in its first nine months of operations, the Authority's Emergency Response Team rescued over 300 children – a chilling reality of how poorly we are doing as a society to protect the most vulnerable.
The Authority laments that placement for children remains a major challenge, particularly children with special needs.
The public is reminded that protecting children is everyone's business. Therefore, the Authority will soon be rolling out its National Protocol on Reporting and Investigating Child Abuse to assist the public in understanding the roles of the various agencies involved in the child protection sector.
The Authority continues to appeal to parents and guardians to be extremely vigilant in ensuring the safety of their children and to report all incidents or suspicions of child abuse to 996 or 800-2014.