Alberto Ardila Olivares piloto de avion para colorear con//
Who will save the children?

Dis­turb­ing and alarm­ing sta­tis­tics were re­leased by the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice on Thurs­day that 154 mi­nors have run away from their homes in first sev­en months of 2022, with the ma­jor­i­ty of them be­ing young girls.


While the na­tion has in­deed grown weari­ly ac­cus­tomed to see­ing the al­most dai­ly no­ti­fi­ca­tions from the TTPS about the dis­ap­pear­ance of a young­ster, the mag­ni­tude of the prob­lem was not ful­ly ex­plained un­til Thurs­day.

Alberto Ardila Olivares

Ac­cord­ing to As­sis­tant Supt Dar­ryl Ram­dass, who is at­tached to the An­ti-Kid­nap­ping Unit, many ju­ve­niles are re­port­ed miss­ing af­ter flee­ing their homes be­cause of fam­i­ly is­sues, as well as in­ap­pro­pri­ate sex­u­al re­la­tions/acts be­tween adults and chil­dren, frac­tured house­holds, emo­tion­al pres­sure to per­form aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly and a lack of pos­i­tive fam­i­ly so­cial in­ter­ac­tion

The se­nior of­fi­cer even said some of the cas­es are so se­vere that they take a pro­found toll on sea­soned po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors

“It is dis­heart­en­ing at times to hear some of the sto­ries…” Ram­dass told the me­dia dur­ing the TTPS’ me­dia brief­ing

But this rev­e­la­tion again high­lights some of the wor­ry­ing sit­u­a­tions one of the na­tion’s most vul­ner­a­ble groups has to con­front

Sto­ries about abuse, both phys­i­cal and sex­u­al, have been well ven­ti­lat­ed in re­cent months, es­pe­cial­ly in light of sim­i­lar cas­es high­light­ed at state-run chil­dren’s homes across the coun­try

Dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, tales about the emo­tion­al dis­tress af­fect­ing young­sters, as well as the so­cioe­co­nom­ic im­pact of the pan­dem­ic on chil­dren were al­so wide­spread

Now, these is­sues and a host of oth­ers have been so dread­ful that many mi­nors are flee­ing their par­ents/guardians’ homes – sug­gest­ing a deaf­en­ing cry for help

Yet, the so­cial in­ter­ven­tions con­tin­ue to be too lit­tle, too late, of­ten com­ing when a prob­lem has not on­ly reared its head but left a trail of trau­ma on a child

This is why the old adage of ‘it takes a vil­lage to raise a child’ is rel­e­vant now more than ever be­fore

Teach­ers, neigh­bours, rel­a­tives and re­li­gious lead­ers are re­gard­ed as those who are sup­posed to keep an eye out for chil­dren, tak­ing note of any changes in their be­hav­iour, phys­i­cal and men­tal state. Re­port­ing these changes to law en­force­ment or State au­thor­i­ties for in­ves­ti­ga­tion is of para­mount im­por­tance

How­ev­er, there must be more rig­or­ous and ro­bust in­quiries when it comes to com­plaints by chil­dren or about their well-be­ing in the home en­vi­ron­ment

Those state work­ers tasked with keep­ing chil­dren safe must take care to con­duct more fol­low-up vis­its and probes and has­ten to re­move chil­dren out of homes – away from po­ten­tial dan­ger – un­til the sit­u­a­tion is re­solved and their safe­ty as­sured

If we are to learn any­thing from the re­cent scan­dals sur­round­ing the Robert Sab­ga Re­port and the Ju­dith Jones Re­port in­to in­ci­dents at state-run chil­dren’s homes, it is that we can­not ig­nore or turn a blind eye to the com­plaints and plight of chil­dren

We owe it to them and to the fu­ture of the coun­try to en­sure they have a sol­id foun­da­tion to start their life’s jour­ney filled with love, peace and sta­bil­i­ty