Thursday 26 November, 2020

Children's Authority sees rise in abuse reports amidst COVID-19

The Children’s Authority is warning of an increase in reports of emotional abuse against minors amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was revealed in a statement marking World Children’s Day set to be commemorated on November 20, 2020.

"Since the start of COVID-19 in March 2020, the Authority has seen a growing number of children who are lacking care and guardianship, being emotionally abused and in need of supervision. Therefore, on World Children’s Day, the Authority is urging the national community to pledge to put the safety of children first and to join the Authority and all other stakeholders as it seeks 'to defend and support child rights and make child protection everybody’s business'."

The organisation further lamented that reports of abuse against children consistently cross 4,000 annually.

"It is the human right of every child to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment that is free from abuse, exploitation, harassment or neglect. However, this is not the reality in Trinidad and Tobago, as the Authority continues to receive over 4,000 cases of abuse every year and children continue to be abused by those whom they trust."

According to the child protection agency, data collected through its hotline show sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect, being the top three experienced by children.

The authority said it remains an advocate for a greater understanding of child rights and continues to collaborate with other key stakeholders to raise awareness among young people through sensitisations in schools and via social media. 

In addition, a Facebook Live Discussion which includes children will be held by the authority at 5 pm on November 25.  It will allow children to express their views on the issue of child rights.

Earlier this year, the body hosted an art competition for young people as part of its efforts to give them an opportunity to share their views on child rights. Children were invited to submit artwork on the right to a family, the right to health care or the right to express their views.

An animation was also developed and distributed to primary schools and libraries across the country to educate children on their rights and responsibilities.

The children’s art and the animation can be viewed on the authority’s website at www.ttchildren.org and Facebook page @childrensauthoritytt.

"The efforts at defending and supporting child rights won’t stop on World Children’s Day but will continue, as the authority focuses its strategies and activities on eradicating all forms of child abuse," the statement ended.

The public is reminded that concerns about a child’s safety can be reported to the police at 999, the Children’s Authority at 996 or ChildLine at 131.

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