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Following claims of abuse...

 JUST over a fortnight after the death of a 12-year-old at the St Michael’s School for Boys, the institution is now to be investigated over claims of abuse from three boys who ran away from the Diego Martin compound Tuesday night.

In a media release yesterday, the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development has also stated that the trio will be relocated to another facility while their claims of being abused at the school are investigated.

The trio was on Wednesday  brought to the office of the Express on Independence Square, Port of Spain, where they claimed they were being beaten and verbally abused by some staff members at the school.

The boys, aged 11 to 13, left the school and went to the home of an 18-year-old friend who took them to the media the next morning.

One boy said he was told that he had been beaten for “giving trouble”.

The school is also being investigated over the death of Brandon Hargreaves, who was said to have been play-fighting when he suffered a fatal fall.

In the media statement yesterday, the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development disclosed that a report on Hargreaves’ death is imminent and that the ministry will take appropriate action based on its findings.

The ministry stated with regard to the claims by the three boys this week, that it has taken “immediate action” to address their complaints.

“On being alerted to the issue, the ministry contacted the Commissioner of Police who assured that the matter is being investigated,” the ministry stated.

“The boys will be placed in another appropriate children’s facility while investigations are ongoing.”

Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Clifton De Coteau has requested a report on the incident from the St Michael’s School for Boys and the ministry will be meeting with the Board of Management of the institution, the release stated, adding:

“The ministry is also continuing its investigations into the circumstances surrounding the recent passing of Brandon Hargreaves who died after a fall at the institution. This investigation will be completed shortly and based on the findings the ministry will take appropriate action.”   

 The ministry said work has been ongoing over the past ten months to modernise care at the institution and at other similar establishments, including the St Mary’s Children’s Home and the St Dominic’s Children’s Home.

The changes include the retraining of staff by the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago and the ministry, the recruitment of persons with the required specialised skills to operate at these institutions and the signing of various Memoranda of Understanding between the ministry and the boards of the facilities.

“Change-management specialists are also currently working in the St Michael’s Home for Boys and the St Jude’s School for Girls, for protracted periods, focusing on the needs of the children, their caregivers, parents and guardians,” the ministry stated.

The ministry further stated that the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago will be “fully operational” by September 2014 and will provide the necessary supervision of these institutions.

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