Friday, April 28, 2017

End violence against children in Trinidad & Tobago


The recent death of 11-month-old Mikyle Ramnath must not be forgotten in nine days like so many others have. Many children have perished at the hands of abusers including Sean Luke and Akiel Chambers to name a few.

Recently on social media a video was released showing the most heinous acts of violence being perpetrated against a two-year-old child. The outrage at these acts in our country is almost universal.

However we must move beyond outrage to action.

That action must not be unplanned and chaotic but based on sound research and strategy with the hopes of achieving real change.

More support is needed for policies and programmes to reduce violence against our society's most vulnerable members.

NGOs and Government initiatives like the Children's Authority have done good work in this area but these groups are overworked and sorely underfunded.

I am calling on the Government particularly the Prime Minister, the minister responsible for Gender and Youth Affairs to adopt a zero tolerance policy on child abuse. If evidence is found of child endangerment the police should use their authority and remove the child from the abusive environment and into protective custody. I call on the private sector to support the troops fighting in the trenches against child abuse. As a director in the Organisation for Abused and Battered Individuals our team literally has to beg for money to fund our programmes. This should not be so.

We often see the same corporations that reject our funding proposals throw millions behind Carnival fetes and other endeavours that do nothing to benefit society. This is simply because our culture is hypocritical and values bacchanal over substance.

I am calling on the population at large to get educated to be our nation's and children's keeper on the issue and volunteer with groups who have been fighting against it for years and report incidents to the relevant hotline. Stop the “ole” talk and start being the change you want to see in the world.

We must do better and be better as a culture and as a nation. If we fail to change more children will die needlessly and their blood will be on our collective hands. Have we truly become a desensitised population or will we stand up and be our neighbours or children's Keeper?

Jonathan Bhagan

and Daychelle Morris

via e-mail