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A national children’s registry is expected to be set up this year, says Gender, Youth and Child Development Minister Clifton De Coteau. He said so yesterday at the launch at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, of the Breaking the Silence Campaign. The registry, he said, would provide a more efficient method of monitoring child development and assist service providers to identify quickly children in need of specialised support.
“This will also be invaluable in reducing the duplication of services and improving communication among practioneers,” he added. He said the Government intended to treat “very explicitly” with abusers who perpetuated an environment of fear and subjugation. “Sadly, the heart-wrenching reality is that child sexual abuse is not only perpetrated by adults but by other children who themselves were victims of abuse.
“For this vicious cycle to be truly thwarted, we must break the silence,” De Coteau urged. He said victims and their families must be reached with a message to speak out and to break the stigma and shame that surrounded the issues of child sexual abuse as a first step to seek help.
Saying the Government recognised its responsibility to support families at various levels from financial stability to well-being, De Coteau said work would continue to refine legislation and service delivery that would treat with all cases of child abuse and reduce the surge in new attacks. He added the national parenting programme also would offer support to parents and parents-to-be, caregivers and guardians.
A robust child protection system also was expected to be implemented which would include law, legal processes, policies, regulations and reporting mechanisms. The campaign, De Coteau said, was a product of a 2008 comprehensive research programme spearheaded by the Institute of Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies. The project was a collaboration with the T&T Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Unicef and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.