Sunday, February 25, 2018

‘Our children in crisis’

“IF we had done a lot of things that we are proposing now, 25 years ago, a lot of the children that were killed recently would not be dead.”

So said Diana Mahabir-Wyatt, head of the Child Protection Task Force, as she spoke to members of the media following yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Mahabir-Wyatt and her team presented its official report to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

The task force was created last month in the wake of an increase in incidents of violence against children and in response to the brutal death of six-year-old Keyana Cumberbatch, who was found in a barrel in her apartment after being killed and sexually assaulted. 

Mahabir-Wyatt said the country is currently facing a crisis as it relates to our children and violence against them.

“I think we are in crisis, I think that what is happening to our children throughout the country is absolutely an emergency and this is why we are working hard as we are, non-stop, and we are not going to stop working until it is done,” she said.

Mahabir-Wyatt said the reports the Child Protection Task Force has received can only be described as “startling”.

“We do have reports all the time of children being ill-treated and they are all startling to be quite honest.”

She said one of the main issues to be addressed is what is going on in the children’s homes around the country.

“What we need to do is take a look at what is going on in children’s homes as they exist now, because they are not being properly monitored,” Mahabir-Wyatt said.

“Once the Children’s Authority staff gets up and going they will be monitored, but very often what happens in the children’s homes is that children abuse children and staff can look the other way when this happens.

“We all know what goes on and I think that, to me, really needs monitoring closely,” Mahabir-Wyatt said.