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Child abuse horrors

Monday, November 5 2007

THE EDITOR: I am stiff horrified and frustrated from my visit to Trinidad last weekend, when I was the keynote speaker at a conference “Abuse Uncovered”. When I was asked to speak on the topic of child abuse little did I know of the impact of this social problem on the country.

The current reporting system is a disaster and trying to obtain statistics on child abuse in the country was horrific – to say the least. There is no reliable reporting system and each organisation keeps individual statistics. There is no central reporting system and most cases go unreported. Has anyone stopped for a moment to consider the long-term psychological effects of child abuse on our children who are often times forced to remain in the same home with the abuser?

As citizens, we all have a responsibility to the safety of our children, whether they are ours or our neighbours – because they are our future. From all indications child abuse, mainly sexual abuse, is rampant in Trinidad and Tobago and this is the cry from all whom I have spoken to including police officers, doctors, teachers, students and parents.

It seems as though sexual abuse is now a part of the culture and the problem is not being addressed. On my way back to the USA I purchased and read the three local newspapers and with elections in the air each newspaper showed what the PNM would do for those who would journey with them to the next level. One of the ads included “$10.93 billion saved for our children’s future . . .” My question is – will this be spent on the hiring of social workers and/or psychologists in each school? Will there be more accountability on the reporting of child abuse and a central registry set up for the reporting of all child abuse cases? Will it be mandatory to report all cases of child abuse? Will there be more mental health services for the abusers and abusees? Will the abusers be removed from the home if the case is founded? Will there be rehabilitation for the abusers?

It’s time that Trinidad takes the problem of child abuse more seriously and the abusers held accountable in the court of law for their actions. As the Minister of National Security is cracking down on crime, he should also include child abuse in his crackdown.



PROFESSOR B MARSON

via e-mail

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