MINISTER of Community Development Nizam Baksh has said parents must be held accountable for recklessness which has led to an increase in the numbers of abandoned children.
Baksh was speaking on Sunday at the opening of the Outstretch Hands Centre of Life Home for Abandoned Children at Borde Narve Village, San Fernando.
"All too often we hear reports about abandoned children who then turn the streets into their homes," Baksh said.
"The phenomenon of street children is not unique to Trinidad and Tobago. Governments across the developed and developing world are faced with this saddening reality."
Baksh said street children were sometimes used by gangs as drug mules and may also become drug addicts in the process. Some, he said, become commercial sex workers which opens them to the risk of violence, rape and coercion.
"Street children are often beaten, scorned and neglected. The violence faced by street children only serves to breed further violence and serves as an incubator for criminal activity. Many abandoned children leave their homes by choice because they are victims of domestic and sexual abuse. Some leave because of the economic hardships faced in their households," he said.
Baksh said the continuing decline in the existence of extended families has contributed to the increase of children being left up to their own devices.