Children and young people today are angrier than their counterparts of the past and it is because of the abuse and neglect they suffer at home, according to Director of the Children’s Authority, Safiya Noel.
She was speaking, yesterday, at the graduation ceremony for a training programme, “It Takes a Village,” which was held to update the childcare and protection skills of persons working in community residences and rehabilitation centres.
The ceremony was held at the Youth Training Centre (YTC), Golden Grove Road, Arouca.
Noel said each child’s experience was different, “But when a child grows up in an atmosphere of neglect, abandonment, sexual and physical abuse with their voice not being heard, that produces negative feelings and children react and display those differently.
“And many times, you find one of the ways in which they display it is through anger and general discontent and discomfort with the world.”
Noel said it was a widespread problem.
“You see it generally, the youths are angry,” She said. “You see it in the schools. You see it in the general community. You see it all through the country. And it is not only Trinidad and Tobago.
“You see it across the world in other countries. In the region you see it. It is something that is happening now in this era.”
Noel said research was needed to find out the reasons for this development and the authority had commissioned several studies to try to find out the reasons behind the behaviour of the children and young people. She said the findings of that research would inform the structure of future programmes to be done by the authority.
The training programme, which involved 100 persons and 37 organisations, was designed to correct deficiencies uncovered during a 2016 survey conducted by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in collaboration with the Children’s Authority into the operation of 42 community residences and rehabilitation centres.
Noel said the survey found shortcomings in the record keeping on the children and their history, which she said was very important. It also discovered that the staff at the institutions did not know First Aid which was also very important, that there was inadequate individual care planning and case management and that the premises of the homes were not up to health and safety standards. She said the authority conducted training sessions in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and she said some improvement was observed but there was still room for improvment.
Asked whether the authority would have the funding next year to carry on its operations and the research it had commissioned, Noel said the authority had been getting the support of the OPM and did have the financing for the research projects it had requested. She said that even with the dire economic situation in which the country found itself, the authority was confident that it would be funded.
Noel said that when the Children’s Authority legislation was proclaimed in 2015, there were about 1,000 children in State care institutions but the number had since declined. She called the development “a good sign.” Noel added that when a child had to be removed from their home, the authority tried to find another family environment such as foster care and other options rather than just putting the child into an institution.
“So you find that there are not as many children going into the system as before,” she said.
Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Ayanna Webster-Roy, said that just as parents wanted to give their biological children the best start in life, the children who became wards of the court also needed their love, support and care.
She said there were currently more than 530 children in community residences and rehabilitation centres across the country and “many of these children have suffered abuse, trauma, neglect and other challenging circumstances.
“These children need to be understood, to be cared for and protected.”
Webster-Roy added, “What we sow into the lives of our children today we will reap it tomorrow as a nation.”