Head of the T&T Police Service’s Child Protection Unit acting Supt Claire Guy-Alleyne, says citizens must take reports of child abuse seriously and should not disbelieve any child who is brave enough to come forward with a report.
“Far too often when a child comes to an adult person, a relative, we tend to ask this child who reports an abuse ‘You sure? You sure daddy did this?’” Guy-Alleyne said.
“Do not do that! If a child comes forward and reports an abuse, you should believe that child immediately and take that child to the police station or the Child Protection Unit so that the abused child will be further interviewed and medically examined.”
Guy-Alleyne, who also heads the Gender-Based Violence Unit, said perpetrators need to be held accountable. She noted that it is not only young girls who are abused but young boys as well.
“Yes, we have female perpetrators, we have charged female adults for penetrating children who are males. A child is a child, anyone who is under the age of 18,” she said.
She explained that it is not a good thing for a male child to be inducted into sexual activities by an experienced woman, noting that parents should protect both their boys and girls from sexual predators. She also said there have been reports of adult women molesting young girls.
“That is why I always say we must teach our boys and girls together. Teach them the difference between a good touch and a bad touch. Focus on all children, make them understand what is happening in society, speak candidly about sex. If they are abused sexually or touched inappropriately and that child reports it to you, act and get help for that child. Most times the perpetrators are not strangers,” she said.
She also advised parents to be careful with whom they were leaving their children.
“Be aware of their activities at all times,” she noted.
Asked whether there are enough safe spaces to house children, Guy-Alleyne said there were never enough safe spaces.
“We have children who are suffering and are at risk. We work closely with the Children Authority. If they obtain a report first, they will contact us. when it comes to abuse in the institutions, the police will investigate those matters,” she added.
She noted that one child being assaulted is one child too much adding that citizens must call 996 or 999 to report child abuse.
“You are mandated to do so by law, once you have knowledge of a child being sexually abused, you must report it. You cannot protect the perpetrator. We need to report whatever we suspect or see. We must protect our children,” she added.
Her comments come even as minors Semion Daniel, Stephen Antoine and Ricardo Thompson, all aged 15, remain at large after absconding from a child support centre on March 20. Anyone with information regarding their whereabouts is urged to contact the authority’s hotlines at 996, 800-2014 or the police at 999.