A director of the Children’s Authority, Safiya Noel, says the country is failing children by failing to protect them from perpetrators.
Noel was speaking at the opening of the Children's Authority's south regional office and assessment centre, Ste Madeleine, earlier today.
She said, “Over the past three and a half years we have received, in the administrative district of Princes Town, over 1,000 (reports of) cases of child abuse and maltreatment, and in San Fernando, over 800 cases. As with all reports received at the authority, sexual abuse, neglect and physical abuse continue to be the highest types of abuse meted out to our children.”
While the authority proudly acknowledges the opening of its south centre, she said, as a society TT should be troubled that there is a great need to have the authority operating in various administrative districts in Trinidad, as well as Tobago.
She said over the past year, the authority's assessment team had completed over 250 forensic medical examinations and 28 forensic interviews. It also completed 121 full multidisciplinary assessments, which enabled 121 children to receive psychosocial, medical and psychological evaluations. The team had identified the necessary therapeutic interventions and a timeframe for achieving the objectives and goals for the children, based on their assessments.
She reminded the audience that perpetrators are often known to the children, as they may be a grandmother, grandfather, uncle, sibling, aunt, stepmother, stepfather or family friend.
“Often it can be the child's mother or father who is perpetrating the abuse.”
Child abuse, she said, occurs in all sectors of society and crosses all socio-economic, racial, and cultural lines.
“The statistics continue to alarm us, but we are heartened by the daily reports to our hotline about incidences of child abuse.
"The true state of child abuse in our country is not known, because the data we receive, from the police, social workers, doctors or the Children's Authority is based on reported cases,” Noel said. There is this a limitation to the data collected, she said, since it depends on reports.
Chairman of the South West Regional Health Authority Valerie Alleyne-Rawlins shared the spotlight with chairman of the Children's Authority Hanif Benjamin.Minister in the Office of the PM Ayanna Webster-Roy cut the ribbon to open the centre and also spoke at the event.
MP for Naparima Rodney Charles said the centre in Ste Madeleine was a project of the PP government and he was happy that it had finally been opened.
Permanent Secretary in the Office of the PM Ian Ramdahin was also present, as well as deputy mayor of San Fernando Vidya Mungal-Bissessar.