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TTUTA head: Teen sex with older men supporting households

By COREY CONNELLY Sunday, February 16 2014

click on pic to zoom in
President of the TT Unified Teachers Association Devanand Sinanan....
President of the TT Unified Teachers Association Devanand Sinanan....

Teenage sexual activity involving female students and older men is taking place with the knowledge of some parents, particularly in depressed communities, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) Devanand Sinanan said.

Sinanan said as a teacher and principal, he learnt of several instances in which young girls were forced to engage in sexual activity for money to support their homes.

“When we ask some of the mothers of these girls if they know what was happening, they say that they know and were okay with it. But I am happy that we have the Children’s Authority up and running to treat with some of these issues,” he told Sunday Newsday on Friday in a telephone interview. Sinanan also said many students engaged in sexual activity during school hours.

“And, many of us (teachers) would have been oblivious to that but now with cellphones in schools, many of them are filming that activity,” he said.

Sinanan said on several occasions he has had to visit police stations to give statements regarding alleged sexual abuse of minors.

“There was one time I had to give a statement to the police for a Form Two student who came to me and told me that she was being abused,” he said.

Sinanan referred to a recent UN/AIDS/Caribbean survey which revealed that one in every three Caribbean teenagers was exposed to some form of sexual activity.

“This is something that we have to come to terms with — in Caribbean societies the young people are very promiscuous. We cannot deny that reality,” he said.

The TTUTA president spoke in the wake of last Wednesday’s launch of the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago’s programme, titled “Integrating Gender-Based Violence Services With Sexual and Reproductive Health Services For Young People,” at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain.

The seminar dealt with promiscuity, the abuse of children and other sexually-related matters.

As the Carnival season shifts into high gear, Sinanan said the society appears to have become increasingly tolerant of promiscuous behaviour among young people. He warned that institutions must be mindful of the messages that were being sent to young people in various fora during Carnival and beyond.

“Sometimes, we as teachers feel as though we are fighting a losing battle because it is glorified in the media,” he observed.

“We are telling the students one thing and they are getting conflicting messages out there. And the most influential message is the one that the student will go with.

“There are some very powerful forces against us and it can be a very frustrating thing.”

Recalling the “soca” caravans which visited secondary schools years ago and the effect this initiative had on the students, he said, “There were many principals who said that they did not want to have that in their schools simply because of the effect it had on the student body.

“The students were beyond control in many instances, even after it had left, students were so hyped they were unable to resume classes. Some of them would even go into the streets.”

Sinanan again blamed parents for much of the social issues confronting children.

“This is about dereliction of duty on the part of parents and the school cannot pick up the role of the home,” he said.

Teachers, he said, were only in charge of children for a period of six hours, 39 weeks per year “and the reality is that we can only do so much.”

Sinanan said the lack of parental involvement in children’s lives has led many of them to seek love and companionship in gangs and social media.

“How many of them (parents) are really monitoring what their children watch on television or on the computer or cellphones?” he asked.

Sinanan also scoffed at the view that sex education was not being taught in the school system, saying it was already a part of the syllabus for Health and Family Life Education in the primary schools as well as the Integrated Science and Social Studies programmes in secondary schools.

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