Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Grande main area for child abuse cases

500 calls to Children’s Authority over past two weeks...


Sangre Grande has been listed as one of the main areas in this country where there is child abuse, says chief executive officer (CEO) of the Children's Authority Sharifa Ali-Abdullah.

Speaking on i95 Radio, Ali-Abdullah said there have been some 500 calls to the authority in the past two weeks, with 250 being serious cases that needed to be attended to.

She said of this figure, some 16 per cent were related to sexual abuse.

Ali-Abdullah said neglect and physical abuse was also a problem, and she noted 25 per cent of the cases come from the Sangre Grande area, which is one of the poorest areas, according to this country's poverty index.

She said there have also been cases from Arima, Tunapuna, Piarco, Couva and Caroni.

Ali-Abdullah said a child assessment centre was recently opened in Mt Hope and two others are on stream for San Fernando and Chaguanas.

She said one will also be opened in Sangre Grande, as well as Tobago.

She noted the Police Service's Crime And Problem Analysis branch (CAPA) recorded 1,000 cases reported last year.

Noting the figures that have been received in two weeks, Ali-Abdullah said the problem was worse than was estimated.

She explained when a call comes to the authority, the case is triaged through a child-protection database.

The level of risk is determined and if a child is in imminent danger, the attorneys are immediately alerted, an application of wardship made at the Family Court and the child is taken to a safe place.

Ali-Abdullah said this intervention was done ten times in the last two weeks to rescue children.

The Family Court, she said, has been very facilitative and is working with the authority in the interest of the children.

She said in non-emergency cases, the case is deemed medium or low risk and social workers are assigned to take action.

She said sometimes, the families are referred to other bodies to obtain help, such as the Ministry of the People and Social Development, if the family is in need of financial assistance that can be attained through a grant.

Ali-Abdullah said the authority now handles foster care and adoption and also works with the 50 children's homes in the country.

The 24-hour hotline number for the Children's Authority is 996.

Other numbers listed on their website are 627-0748, 623-7555 and 625-7151.