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Wednesday 20 November 2019
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Budget gives Children’s Authority much-needed push

File Photo: Children’s Authority chairman Hanif Benjamin.
File Photo: Children’s Authority chairman Hanif Benjamin.

CHILDREN’s Authority chairman Hanif Benjamin said the increase in its budgetary allocation will go a long way in treating with the trauma, hurt and marginalisation of children.

He said the sum allocated is less than the authority would have advocated for, but can be used to do more for the nation’s children.

To date, he said the authority is dealing with 20,000 cases and have received over 50,000 calls to its hotline.

“I think more and more, as the Children’s Authority evolves, we are understanding the type of abuse, we are understanding more and more what is going on with our children and as a result of that we are expanding, and we are growing. We are also increasing staff to meet the demand. So we will continue to do more and be creative with how we manage the money we have been given.”

“Perhaps in the midterm, next year, we can look for more to continue to build the agency.”

Benjamin spoke to the media after he was inducted as a member of the San Fernando South Rotary Club last Friday. He said he hopes to use his skills and training to be of service to the wider community.

“I have looked at TT and the wider Caribbean in the last couple of years and I see the struggle of our children, I see the struggle of family life, I see the struggle of a society as a clinical traumatologist, someone who deals in the perils of many, as I try to bring harmony back to lives.”

In his acceptance speech he said all his life he has lived by the motto "service above self," which is also one of Rotary’s principles.

“I have been a champion of children and youths. Adolescent challenges and trauma remain major among our young people – suicidality, other criminogenic factors – so we need to understand what is causing our young people to become traumatised, why they are living how they are living, why they are moving into areas such as crime. And I think coming into Rotary gives me a greater opportunity to really help in a meaningful way to bring a level of arrest to this situation.”

Benjamin said he was pleased that District Governor Trevor Blake of St Kitts, who witnessed the induction at Freebird Restaurant, Pointe-a-Pierre, had expressed his passion for treating youths at risk and believes he will fit in perfectly with Rotary’s programmes.

Focusing on the trauma and marginalisation of the elderly and vulnerable as well and the commemoration of World Mental Health Day on October 10, Benjamin said mental health continues to be a challenge.

“I think more must be done, holistically. I think we are in a good place – albeit it bad incidences – to really look at mental health in a more holistic and more societal level,” he said, referring to the police rescue of 69 patients from the Transformed Life Ministries at Arouca last week.

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