Minister Webster-Roy: We must work together to prevent child abuse in T&T
April 13, 2017: Child abuse is a problem in our country and we all need to work together to deal with this issue. This according to the Honourable Ayanna Webster-Roy, Minister of State in the Office of The Prime Minister. Minister Webster- Roy and Dr. Derick Forrester, Manager, Children and Family Services Unit, Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development (DHWFD) appeared on Wake up Tobago on Radio Tambrin 92.7fm and Rise and Shine on Tobago Channel 5 on Tuesday 11th April and Thursday 13th April respectively, to raise awareness about children abuse in our country. This was done as part of the observation of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“I specifically call on all faith-based organizations to start raising awareness amongst their members about this scourge in our society” Webster-Roy implored. She expressed that all sectors of society has a role in preventing child abuse. Minister Webster- Roy explained “this month is not about any celebration but it is an ongoing public sensitization programme”. She explained that this awareness is forcing persons in society to acknowledge the issue of child abuse and providing information on how to deal with it and where to access services to help both victims and perpetrators.
The Minister added “the continued collaboration with the Ministry and the Tobago House of Assembly, through the DHWFD will soon see the establishment of an Assessment Centre for the Children’s Authority to operate efficiently in Tobago. The process to establish the Centre has already commenced. This means that abused children on the Island will have a more robust system of intervention, in collaboration with the Child Protection Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. Additionally, the Minister shared that the Ministry’s children’s rights handbook will be distributed in all schools throughout Tobago within the next few weeks. The Minister concluded by encouraging abused children or family members of abused children to seek help F.A.S.T from (Family, Authority, School or Trusted adult).
Dr. Forrester shared “poor parenting skills and stressed single parents are just a few of the many identified reasons why children are abused in our country.” He explained that there are various services to benefit both victims and perpetrators such as counselling services at the Children and Family Services Unit. He explained “counselling builds a bridge between the victim and perpetrator and begins the healing process, despite the consequences for the perpetrator”. He said based on the intervention needed, the necessary referral will be made to the appropriate institution. Dr. Forrester concluded “universally, children have rights and it is time we as adult begin to respect them”.
National Child Abuse Prevention Month is observed in April annually and is a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse. Communities are encouraged to share child abuse prevention strategies and promote prevention across the country. This year, the theme is “Unite against Child Abuse.”
Victims or family members of a victim of child abuse are encouraged to ACT F.A.S.T
- F: Family: National Family Services: 794-7483 & 784-5538, Children and Family Services Unit, Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development 639-3395 Exts. 7709-7712.
- A: Authority: Police Service: 999 (Victim & Witness Support Unit & the Child Protection Unit) and the Children’s Authority: 996 / 800-2014.
- S: School: Student Support Services (Guidance Counsellors and School Social Workers) Teachers, Principals etc.
- T: Telephone/ Trusted Adult: Child Line: 131 or 800-4321
Adoption is a means of providing a safe haven for abused children. If you wish to adopt children, contact the Children’s Authority.
From left: Mrs. Laureen Burris-Phillip, Host of Wake up Tobago Morning Talk show, Dr. Derick Forrester, Manager, Children and Family Services Unit, DHWFD and the Honourable Ayanna Webster-Roy, Minister of State in the Office of The Prime Minister.
For further information please contact:
The Communications Unit
Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development
Tobago House of Assembly
868-639-3395 ext. 7271/2