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Act to save children
The official conversation about child abuse resumed last week as the Government acknowledged the preliminary findings of the Child Protection Task Force. On Thursday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced that the Children’s Authority was critically understaffed, operating with less than a fifth of its complement of staff and officers. That situation was not alleviated by her astonishment at the situation.
Her surprise, ultimately, must be tempered by the simple fact that she is in a position to do something about it and to do so with dispatch. The statistics offered by the Prime Minister describe the problem of child abuse in intimidating terms. Sexual offences and robbery are by far the leading crimes committed against children, at 42 per cent each, and children today are a quarter of the country's population.
The question here is not why the Children’s Authority is understaffed to the point of ineffectiveness. What must be asked is how a fourth of the population, and its most vulnerable quartile at that, remained exposed to dangers that are known, understood and statistically measured for so long. Legislative solutions have been proposed and passed into law and remain unimplemented because of a level of bureaucratic ineptitude that is still to be properly explained.
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