Government failing our abused children

- Photo courtesy Pixabay
- Photo courtesy Pixabay

THE EDITOR: I write to express my concern about the Government's disregard for victims of child abuse.

TT is currently plagued by some of the highest rates of child abuse in the Caribbean. Our government is both legally and morally obligated to take decisive action against increasing crimes against children.

The Government's neglect of youth is evident from the severe underfunding and understaffing of critical institutions like the Children's Authority, which operates under the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs).

Over the past 24 years, the authority's unmanageable caseload has overwhelmed the system. This has left children from infancy to adolescence without essential services such as accommodation, security, counselling and legal aid.

With repeated cuts to the Children's Authority, funding for child welfare takes a back seat to other sectors like infrastructure and healthcare. The Government allocated $150 million, inclusive of taxpayers’ money, to child welfare in the 2023-2024 budget. However, parliamentary enquiries reveal its failure to fully comply with this funding commitment.

Fortunately, there are cases in which our courts have condemned the State for not meeting its legal obligations to children under both national and international laws. This legal framework will continue to hold the State accountable for actions that breach child protection standards. However, transparency and accountability of state expenditures remain crucial to ending mismanagement in child protection agencies.

Moving forward, we must become the mouthpiece of our children in TT and advocate for financial investment in the safety of the nation's most vulnerable demographic.

The Caribbean international community, including UNICEF and Caricom, must also hold member states accountable for their failure to uphold agreed-upon standards of child protection.

NIRVANA M ARJOONSINGH

St Augustine

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