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Rise in calls to child abuse hotline

Saturday, January 4 2014

THERE has been an estimated 150 percent increase in the number of calls to the Childline 800- 4321 hotline daily, following the launch of a text message promotion of the free service in December.

“We have seen a drastic increase in reports of abuse of children and families since we started the promotion early last month. Childline went from about 80 calls per day to now about 200. These reports are forwarded to the National Family Services, where we have social workers on the ground and they investigate all reports of abuse,”said acting Director of National Family Services in the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development Antoinette Jack-Martin.

“A lot of times we get reports about children being left home alone at night. Many callers choose to remain anonymous but they do leave a contact number in case we need directions to the house in question.” Jack-Martin spoke yesterday at a press conference at the ministry’s Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain office, called to launch a year-long programme entitled “Strengthening Our Families.”

Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Clinton De Coteau said, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has agreed to be the patron for the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family and to launch the national initiative for 2014. De Coteau also said the goals of “Strengthening Our Families” would be achieved through a “multi-component approach” across multiple sectors on national and community levels.

Asked for specifics on how this would be done, the ministry’s Child Development Specialist Candice Wallace-Henry, said family skills training would play a key role. “This would address some key stresses which the family faces, such as parent-child conflict, inter-parental conflict, budgeting. Some of this would fall under the National Parenting Programme which the ministry is launching later this year,” Wallace-Henry stated.

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