An image on the Facebook page Justice for Keyana shows Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar hugging one of the sisters of Keyana Cumberbatch during a visit to the family home at Maloney Gardens on Sunday. At right is Keyana's mother Simone Williams. At left is Clifton de Coteau, Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development.

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Police: There is no waiting period in a missing person case

....cops respond to Keyana Cumberbatch rape/murder, warn parents, guardians on how to find signs of child abuse

By Multimedia Desk

The Police Service today issued a press statement in response to the brutal rape and murder of six year old Keyana Cumberbatch, reminding its officers that they are expected to act on a missing persons report immediately, or face disciplinary action. The Police Service also advised parents and guardians of children, on how to look for signs of abuse. The following is the press statement -


There have been some concerns expressed in the media about the response of the Police to the report made by the relatives of little Keyana Cumberbatch. Firstly, the Police would like to extend condolences to the relative of Keyana Cumberbatch and assure them that we will do all within our powers to ensure that the perpetrator of this heinous crime is brought to justice.

In addressing the issue of missing persons, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Standing Order 51 was amended in 2006 to treat with the aspect of immediate response. It was recognized that responding promptly to such reports was of paramount importance to the preservation of life.

As soon as a report of a missing person is made to a Police officer, he or she is required to take a written record of the report. The report must include the name and address of the person making the report, the name, address and description of the missing person, when and where the person was last seen and the places or relatives frequently visited by the missing person. A photograph of the missing person should be obtained where practicable. The information is immediately acted upon. There is no 24 hour waiting period. As such, the allegation made is being investigated and where there are found to be any breaches, the offenders will be disciplined.
Reports of child abuse continue to engage the attention of the Police. However, whether it’s a one off incident or there is a history of abuse, it is still a crime that must be given and has been given serious attention. We must protect our children. Child abuse does not occur in poor families or bad neighbourhoods. It crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines. There are many children who are abused both physically and sexually and carry the secret around with them day to day. As it relates to sexual abuse, the effects on children can be evident in emotional, physical and behavioural ways. These effects can be just as devastating whether there was only one occurrence or there were repeated occurrences.
Section 10 of the Sexual Offence Act 11:28 states:

(1) An adult who has sexual intercourse with a minor who is the adult’s adopted child, step-child, foster child, ward or dependant in the adult’s custody is guilty of an offence.
(2) An adult who commits an offence under this section is liable on conviction to imprisonment—

(a) if committed with a minor under fourteen years of age, for life;

(b) if committed with a minor fourteen years of age or more, for twenty-five years.

Section 9 of the Sexual Offences Act 11:28- INCEST

9. (1) A person commits the offence of incest who, knowing that another person is by blood relationship, his or her parent, child, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, uncle, niece, aunt or nephew, as the case may be, has sexual intercourse with that person.

(2) A person who commits the offence of incest is liable on conviction to imprisonment-
(a) If committed by an adult with a person under fourteen years of age, for life;
(b) If committed by an adult with a person fourteen years of age or more, for life;
(c) If committed between minors fourteen years of age or more, for two years

One Important point to note as it relates to incest or where the child may be abused by a stepfather, is that the closer the emotional relationship, the greater the emotional trauma for the victim. In these cases, children tend to keep the secret to themselves because there may be a special bond between them and the person who is molesting them. What is important is that the child is not made to feel shame or blame. It must be clearly understood that the child is under a great deal of stress even to share the experience and he/she must be emotionally protected at all costs.

We urge parents, both mothers and fathers to look for the following warning signs:
· The Child showing signs of discomfort whilst 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, with a minister or family friend, or with a coach or older brother or sister. The reality is, all of the aforementioned can be sexually abusive towards the child.

· Running away from home.

Parents need to talk to their children about what is appropriate and inappropriate touching. Children cannot be expected to know how to respond to sexual abuse, unless they have been taught what to do
It is very difficult for a child who is being abused to muster the courage to tell someone. The child may be of such tender age that he or she is unable to communicate. They may feel shame. Therefore, it is imperative that any disclosure of child sexual abuse be taken seriously, no matter how hard their story may be to believe.

The child may feel guilt and this is especially true if the abuse was pleasurable or if special rewards were given. The child may believe that they invited the abuse or experience guilt because he or she did not try hard enough to stop the abuse. Children need an adult to trust them and believe in them, and help provide the support and understanding needed to take them to the road to recovery. They will need medical care as well as counselling to deal with the emotional trauma of the abuse.
We have seen where many parents, especially mothers, have ignored reports of abuse from the child; since they believe any attempt to address it may affect their economic and social security in circumstances where they are dependent on the offender.

Again, we want to remind parents of the provision of Section 31 of the Sexual offences Act
Mandatory reporting of sexual abuse of a minor
Section 31 of the Sexual Offences Act 11:28
31. (1) Any person who—
(a) is the parent or guardian of a minor;
(b) Has the actual custody, charge or control of a minor
(c) Has the temporary custody, care, charge or control of a minor for a special purpose, as his attendant, employer or teacher, or in any other capacity; or
(d) is a medical practitioner, or a registered nurse or midwife, and has performed a medical examination in respect of a minor, and who has reasonable grounds for believing that a sexual offence has been committed in respect of that minor, shall report the grounds for his belief to a police officer as soon as reasonably practicable.

(2) Any person who without reasonable excuse fails to comply with the requirements of subsection (1), is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of fifteen thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term of seven years or to both such fine and imprisonment
Obstructing prosecution. Section 31A of the Sexual Offences Act
31A. Where a person prevents a minor from—
(a) Giving a statement to the police; or
(b) Testifying, in proceedings relating to a sexual offence, he commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of twenty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for a term of ten years.
It important for everyone to understand that child abuse can have a lifelong effect on the victim. It can affect future relationships, self-esteem, and most importantly the statistics can increase once the cycle continues. We are appealing to all citizens, if you are the next door neighbour, a teacher, a friend or any family member and you are aware, you need to report it now.
To the parents, we do appreciate that parenting can be a very difficult job, especially if you’re raising children without support from family; friends or the community or you’re dealing with relationship problems or financial difficulties. Some parents never learned the skills necessary for good parenting. There are parents who were themselves victims of child abuse and may only know how to raise their children the way they were raised. In such circumstances, support is critical. The Trinidad and Tobago Police service Victim and Witness Support Unit stand ready and willing to lend support where necessary and can be contacted at – 624-8853.
We need to break the cycle of child abuse now. The Trinidad and Tobago Police service remains committed to this cause.
If you are the abuser, stop now and seek help, since you will feel the full brunt of the law.

The Trinidad and Tobago Police service remains committed to the protection of life and property and will expend all resources in ensuring that crime and the fear of crime is reduced thereby improving the quality of life for all.
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