Saturday, February 17, 2018

Teachers ‘legally required’ to tell cops about suspected underage sex

ONCE a teacher has reason to believe an underage pupil is sexually active, he or she is legally required to report the matter to the police, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) Davanand Sinanan has said.

Sinanan, a former school principal, said from his personal experience in dealing with such matters, the police treat those reports “very seriously”.

Speaking at the Senate on Tuesday, Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh said there are over 2,500 teen pregnancies each year, with most of them for fathers in the 25-to-40-years age group.

This suggests many men are getting away with statutory rape, Gopee­singh said.

Gopeesingh said between 2008 and 2012, the Education Ministry received reports of four cases of girls attending primary schools who gave birth. All four girls returned to school to complete their primary education.

Three of them completed their secondary education up to Form Five.

For the same period between 2008 and 2012, Gopeesingh said the Education Ministry received reports that there were 153 cases of teenage pregnancy.

Of the 153 reported cases, Gopeesingh said, approximately 81 of the girls returned to school and 54 completed their education up to Form Five.

Gopeesingh described the situation as “frightening”.

The Express yesterday contacted Sinanan—the head of the officially recognised trade union for teachers at the primary and secondary level of the public teaching service in Trinidad and Tobago—to get a comment on the issue.

Sinanan said he could not comment on whether there has been an increase in the trend because he did not have the statistics available to him.

He, however, said teachers do what they are required to do when they have reason to believe an underage pupil is sexually active.

“We are required by law to do certain things. Once we have reason to believe a pupil is sexually active, we are required by law to report that to the police,” Sinanan said.

Sinanan said it is a responsibi­lity the teachers take seriously.

“Our job is not to investigate. We go to the police and report the incident, and they take it from there,” he said.

Sinanan said he has had to report such instances to the police in the past. “From my experience, the police take those reports very seriously. They treat those issues very seriously,” he said.