Urging them to make the school holiday period a safe one for their children, the Children’s Authority in a release noted “a higher incidence of abuse of children, particularly sexual abuse, during vacation periods, as children may be left unsupervised for longer periods of time, giving perpetrators more access and opportunity.” The authority said that research has shown that children whose parents talk to them about abuse were better equipped to protect themselves, since they can identify risky situations.
During the first six weeks of operations, the authority said that 628 cases of varying types of abuse were reported, representing 64 percent of all cases reported to the TT Police Service for 2014.
“It also signifies that the problem is even more horrific than we anticipated,” the release said.
The most prevalent of abuses were sexual and physical abuse, and neglect, the release said noting that reports were made by concerned citizens, including neighbours.
A sensitisation programme for parents and guardians to address the incidence of child abuse, the release said, will be conducted through media engagements and with stakeholders in communities over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, the authority said that if parents and guardians are unable to supervise children, they should leave them in the care of a responsible and trusted adult, and check regularly to see how they are doing.
They should encourage children to inform them or a trusted responsible adult if someone was touching them inappropriately, the authority said.
Parents and guardians are also advised to set basic guidelines for children when they go on the internet or on social networks and make regular checks to see what they are doing.
Meanwhile the authority is encouraging parents and guardians to register with the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development to take part in parenting workshops and vacation camps which the ministry will host over the holidays across the country.