Friday, December 15, 2017

‘1,709 reports of crimes against children’

port of spain
The Child Protection Unit (CPU) of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, established in May 2015, has so far received a total of 1,709 reports of alleged crimes against children.
The figure was stated yesterday by (Ag) Supt Odette Lewis, of the CPU, who made a statement titled “Protecting Children from Abuse during Easter Period and Beyond”, at the weekly news briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain.
The CPU, which has been active since last May in each of the nine police divisions around the country, is mandated to investigate recent matters of sexual offences/abuse, physical abuse, abandonment/neglect and ill-treatment of children, and is responsible for investigating the criminal aspect of such reports.
The Children’s Authority’s responsibility is to simultaneously engage in the psycho-social interventions which assist the child victim to maintain a sense of stability in his/her life.
Lewis stated that for the period May to December 2015, a total of 1,358 reports were made to the CPU.
For 2016, from January to February, there have been 351 reports where children were the victims.
After investigations, 282 cases resulted from the reports made in 2015 and are before the courts, while 76 matters are before the courts for January-February 2016.
“The statistics have shown sexual crimes were prevalent towards children 15 years and under. It also shows that in 90 per cent of the crimes toward children, females are the victims,” Lewis stated.
Sexual penetration was the most prevalent crime being committed, but it bears noting that under the Children’s Act 12 of 2012, “sexual penetration for sexual gratification” does not only refer to rape or buggery, but also refers to the penetration of any bodily orifice of the child, inclusive of the child’s nose, mouth and ears.
Lewis said the unit is pleased with the Cabinet’s decision to formally approve the outfit and the sanctioning offers a strength that will “greatly assist us in doing more to ensure the care and protection of our nation’s children”.
The unit also offered guidelines for parents and guardians in recog­nising a child as possibly being abused. Warning signs include:
• The child showing signs of discomfort while walking or sitting.
• Reluctance to undress in front of others who they may have previously felt comfortable doing so in front of.
• The child seems to possess unusually wide knowledge or interest in sexual acts which may be inappropriate to his or her age, or where seductive behaviour is displayed.
• Shying away from physical ­activities.
• Recurring sexually-transmitted diseases. Pain, itching or burning in the genitals. Frequent urination.
• Making strong efforts to avoid a specific person without an obvious reason. The child may not want to be alone with an aunt or uncle, or with a family religious leader or friend, or with a teacher, coach or older brother or sister.
• Running away from home.
“The reality is all of the aforementioned can be sexually abusive towards the child,” the CPU’s guidelines stated.
Crimes or suspected crimes against children may also be repor­ted at the following numbers:
• 800-TIPS;
• 555;
• Police, 999;
• any police station;
• Child Protection units;
• Victim and Witness Support Unit, 624-8853;
• Childline, 131 or 800-4321;
• Children’s Authority, 996/800-2014;
• Customer Care Hotline, 800-TTPS;
• Child Guidance Clinic, 645-2640, ext 3907;
• National Family Services, 627-1163.