Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Gopeesingh: Take a stand for children
Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh has issued a stirring appeal for all citizens to make a special effort towards ensuring that children are not abused and are treated in accordance with their constitutional rights. In his message for the United Nation’s Universal Children’s Day, which is celebrated annually on November 20, the minister also notes that this year, it is dually commemorating World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, with the focal theme being the Prevention of Violence Against Children. Gopeesingh said: “I cannot stress enough the significance of this day to Trinidad and Tobago—as it comes at a time in our nation’s history when many of our children seem especially vulnerable to crime, violence and general social neglect.
“I therefore call on our citizens to use Sunday November 20 to reflect on the very crucial need for us all to ensure that our children truly benefit from their guaranteed constitutional and human rights of safety, protection, respect, care and love.” Pointing out that his ministry and Government has implemented many polices geared at enhancing the rights and welfare of the nation’s children, the minister said this could never be enough. “The reality is however, that none of these policies will achieve their true purposes until every single citizen of our country takes personal responsibility for promoting the welfare and betterment of our children.” It is a sad fact that throughout Trinidad and Tobago children are, in many cases, the victims of terrible crimes, violence, neglect and abuse. Though they have the protection of civil rights, they do not always have protection from the adults with whom they interact, and on whom they depend for their raising and nurturing.
Gopeesingh stated that one of the most painful phenomena our society has experienced over the past two decades is our children becoming ‘collateral damage’ in gang warfare and parental neglect. We simply cannot let this continue, he added. “The time has come for us all to resolve to change this scourge by essentially changing how we view children. We must realise that investing in our children is not a national luxury or a national choice—it is a national necessity. If, as individuals, we do not stand up for children’s rights of equality and justice, then we do not stand for much as a people. “The time has come to take that stand. On this day, when we honour the sacred existence of children, let us make that first step towards becoming a nation where all our children know that they are loved, respected, protected, and regarded as equal human beings who are truly the trustees of our nation’s future,” Gopeesingh added.