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‘Parents unaware of laws relating to statutory rape’

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

Parents in this country are unaware of the laws of the land, which state it is statutory rape to have sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 14, says Joanne James, Assistant Commissioner of the police outreach programme.
“If something is not known to you, then you will not be aware. If a parent doesn’t know, she may not know the child is sexually active; and even if she does, she may not know there is a law that says your child’s ‘yes’ means ‘no’ because the statutes provide that a child under the age of 14 cannot consent,” said James.
She was responding to questions from the Express following a seminar on polygraph testing in business hosted by the Chamber of Commerce at its Westmoorings headquarters.
James said this country was in its worst time, but there is hope.
“There is hope. There is hope because there is God, there is hope because the nation has a heart and we will surmount and move beyond this. I think we are in our worst of times and it can only get better,” she said.
James said one of the problems facing society was the lack of education with respect to the laws.
She said the police outreach programmes, through collaborative efforts with all stakeholders, will embark on a campaign to educate the public and create a holistic strategy in addressing the society’s ills.
She said in order to deal with community decay, the public must come together to ensure “the village really raises a child”.
James said there is also the problem with parents not being involved in their children’s lives and the generation today being caught up in a world of media.
“The youth, there are so many distractions, a click of the mouse away, Googling. Your parents could have sit on the verandah or what you would call the gallery and look at what you do, see you playing in the yard, hopscotch, moral, girls and boys playing together. They always had that watchful eye. Where is the parent today? Where is the caregiver... the person seem to be invisible,” she said.
James said parents, teachers and neighbours all need to come together and protect the children.
James joined the Police Service at the age of 19 and has served for the past 37 years.
She said as a mother and grandmother, the murders today are horrendous but the public needs to question what is going wrong and work together to fix it.
She said when a person is murdered, one also has to take into consideration that the murderer has a mother; and what did that mother do wrong in raising her child?
James said the lives of young men need to be touched in a positive way to ensure they have values and morals to pass on to their own children.
She said just as there are mothers who are training their boys to do the right thing, there are also mothers who are training their daughters to do wrong, and responsibility lies in the hands of parents to nurture their children and be proper examples themselves.
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