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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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CCSJ in call for action on child abuse: Strategy review needed urgently
The Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) has added its voice to the call for the Government to establish speedily a fully-functional Children’s Authority and put systems in place to protect the human rights of children.
In a press release, the commission, headed by Leela Ramdeen, called on the Government, religious leaders, communities, media and the Police Service, among others, to review strategies for child abuse and its prevention. Ramdeen specifically called for a revisit of the police’s response to child abuse and for the media to examine its role in child abuse prevention. The commission called for six steps to be taken to address the issue of child abuse.
Its calls come after the rape and murder of six-year-old Keyana Cumberbatch in Maloney last week. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has established a Child Protection Task Force in the wake of the killing, which shocked the Maloney community and the nation. The CCSJ called on religious leaders to “instill in the hearts and minds of their followers morals and values that will help to build their character and lead them to live by the tenets of their faith.”
It also called on communities to establish victim support groups and restorative justice groups to stand in solidarity with both victims of crime and perpetrators of crime and for educational institutions to play their part in “facilitating integral human development” which, it said, included adding ethics, morals and values to the curriculum.
The commission also said it was time for the criminal justice system to review whether or not the current system dealt effectively and efficiently with cases involving child abuse, adding it was time society protects its most vulnerable—the elderly and children. The release added: “The Catholic Church believes that the basic moral test of any society is how it treats its most vulnerable members, among whom are our children.”
“Every child is a gift to humanity. We have a duty to promote the human rights and the dignity of our children and create conditions and safe environments that will enable them to realise their potential. Society cannot turn a blind eye to the heinous crimes that are being committed against the nation’s vulnerable children.” It said Cumberbatch’s death must spur the society to action and citizens should commit themselves to being role models and mentors. While saying each citizen had a role to play in promoting human rights, the commission said the State “has a duty to create social conditions that allow people to reach their full potential and realise their human dignity.”
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