Children's Authority makes statement on recent events surrounding social media app
The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is saddened by the reported deaths of two children which occurred within days of each other.
The Authority’s Emergency Response Team was dispatched to determine the necessary support required for both families.
In the death of a nine-year-old child, allegedly as a result of a TikTok challenge gone wrong, the Authority is calling on parents and guardians to be aware of popular trends on social media apps that are harmful to children.
While the app TikTok has been used to share funny and informational content, there has been an increase of challenges that have been proven to be dangerous to children and in some instances caused death.
Parents and guardians are advised to monitor their children’s use of devices and utilise safety settings for the internet and social media apps. The Authority notes that some apps including TikTok allow parents and guardians to set time limits, filter mature and or harmful content, and disable direct messaging for accounts through the app settings with a passcode. Further, parents and guardians should hold regular conversations on the importance of not participating or imitating social media trends and or challenges due to the possibility of harm or death.
In relation to the death of a teen boy allegedly by suicide, the Authority extends its deepest condolences to the family of the child.
While the circumstances are yet to be confirmed, the Authority is aware that children and their families have been severely impacted by the restrictions brought on as a result of the pandemic.
Therefore, the Authority is urging parents and guardians to monitor any changes in their child’s behaviour as it could indicate that something is wrong. The following are signs to look for in children who may be dealing with suicidal ideation:
• Talking about death or suicide
• Intense sadness and/or hopelessness
• Not caring about activities that used to matter
• Social withdrawal from family, friends, sports, social activities
• Substance and drug abuse
• Giving away possessions
• Inability to think clearly/concentration problems
• Declining school performance/continuous absences from school
• Increased irritability, moods swings and or rage
• Changes in appetite
Parents and guardians are also urged to contact any of the following agencies below for further professional assistance.
• Child Line – 800-4321
• Lifeline (suicide) – 645-2800
• Families in Action – 628-2333
• National Family Services Division – 624-8218/627-1163
• National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-SAVE
• Student Support Services Division: 724-1010
The public can also visit the Authority’s social media platforms and website for more information and tips:
The Children’s Authority stands ready to assist. You are not alone. “Child Protection Is Everybody’s Business” and if child abuse is suspected, the public should call the Authority at 996 or the Police at 999.