As TT feels the effects of the coronavirus (covid19) pandemic, Health, Wellness and Family Development Secretary Tracy Davidson-Celestine insists the welfare of the country's children must remain its priority.
"Our nation is at this time facing its greatest challenge: covid19. During times of national and social upheaval, safeguarding our children must be a core priority," she said in a statement on Thursday to commemorate Child Abuse Prevention Month.
"Things are not getting easier, so families must get closer, more protective of each other, and more resilient."
April has been designated Child Abuse Prevention Month around the world.
Davidson-Celestine said the Tobago House of Assembly has already begun initiatives geared at strengthening the island's social support networks to enable families to grow stronger and closer "to tackle the inevitable hardships that this pandemic will bring."
She said in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services and the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development, the division is actively facilitating national initiatives to mitigate some of the adverse social and economic effects related to the spread of covid19.
"We urge families to avail themselves of these initiatives as they are meant to assist in safeguarding the most vulnerable amongst us: especially our children."
Davidson-Celestine recalled late prime minister Dr Eric Williams, on the eve of TT's Independence, in 1962, said the nation's children carried the country's future.
"That was true then, it is true now and it will be true in our future. It is the duty of every individual in our country to contribute to every child achieving his/her fullest potential. Protecting our children; keeping them from all harm, is the business of every citizen."
She added: "We are facing trying times, but we will survive, and we will be stronger for it. Our children will live to tell the stories of this time; to sustain what remains after this crisis and to re-build and improve on what was lost.
"We need to protect, empower and strengthen them now to enable them to do all that they have to do, then. "
Davidson-Celestine urged everyone to work together to prevent child abuse "not just for April but always."