THE CHILD PROTECTION Unit (CPU) of the TT Police shared tips on some of the ways to ensure that children are protected during the Carnival season during the weekly police press briefing held at the police administration building on Wednesday.
Child Protection Unit Supervisor Valerie Hospedales said it was important to ensure that children are safe whether they were partaking in Carnival or not.
“As parents and guardians it is our responsibility to properly survey our surroundings and proactively identify potential threats and take measures to neutralise or reduce them,”
Here are some of the tips she shared that could protect your children from falling prey to criminals or predators this Carnival.
Be responsible parents
The simple act of being a responsible adult and parent could save your child’s life. Some of the tips Hospedales gave as strategies to protect children included things that any responsible adult should know, like don’t give alcohol or drugs to your children and don’t allow them to sell alcoholic beverages or illegal or recreational drugs.
According to Hospedales, parents should also leave electronic devices and any other devices which could distract a child at home.
She also advised to ensure you know your children’s whereabouts at all times and make sure all their activities are properly supervised. She said parents should also put name tags on their children in case they get lost. She added, it was inadvisable to leave your children in arcades, movie theatres, or toy stores.
“Do not use these places as babysitters,” Hospedales said. “Predators are always looking for opportunities and children are vulnerable.”
She also said parents should not send children to ATM’s, as they are considered soft targets for robbery and assault
Hospedales said when going out with children: obey the traffic laws, drive within the speed limit and ensure children are wearing seatbelts or are in car seats. She added that when parents are out, they should ensure that sufficient adults remain to supervise the children.
“We recommend one adult to two or three children.”
Educate your children
Educating your children on safety and security measures is also a good way of protecting them. Hospedales advised that teaching your children security measures at the home could help them protect themselves and they should be taught those measures until it became second nature to them.
Some of the security measures parents should teach their children include teaching them the emergency numbers and the security measures at the home. Hospedales also advised parents to teach children not to take food or drinks from strangers or wander off with them. At home, they should be taught not to open doors for strangers or publish the whereabouts of their parents when they are not at home.
“We also advise children to leave house lights on at night as this would deter intruders,” Hospedales said.
Have trustworthy caretakers
Hospedales advised that parents ensure they know the people with whom they are leaving their children.
“Important questions to consider are, are they of legal supervising age? Are they trustworthy? Are they capable?”
She reminded the public that a person only came of age when they turned 18 and no person under that age should be tasked with supervising a child.
Hospedales told reporters that the most common offenders of child abuse and assaults on a child, are not limited to relatives, but include caregivers and even individuals in faith-based organisations.
In wishing parents and children a safe Carnival, Hospedales said the protection of the nation’s children is everyone’s responsibility.
“We will continue to do our part to protect the nation’s children. We need parents and guardians to do front-end controls. You are the authorities in your family,” Hospedales said.