Ian K Ramdhanie, MSc,
Chief Executive Officer of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC) Catherine Kumar admitted yesterday to being deeply concerned by the statistics given by Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh on teenage pregnancy. She said the figures disclosed in Parliament on Tuesday, which revealed there are on average 2,500 teenage pregnancies annually, for fathers within the 25-40-year age group, showed the social fabric of “our nation is really hurting very deep.”
She said part of the problem was the issue of single-parent families. “We have too many single parents, that is more than likely single mothers, around,” Kumar said during the TTCIC’s Crime and Justice Committee seminar, titled Polygraph Testing in Businesses, at the TTCIC headquarters in Westmoorings. “They have to go out to work, they have no choice, economics just demands that. They cannot find the fathers, the fathers are pretty much absent in every way, including financially.
“The kids are left alone and we don’t have sufficient childcare. Even though they are putting a lot of childcare facilities, certainly they are not sufficient and are not spread throughout all the communities.” She said the church had a role to play in solving the problem, but noted that teachers too would also have to focus on the non-academic side of educating their students in order to develop their characters better.
“Today’s children are becoming mothers before they have grown up. They may be 19 years of age based on a birth certificate, but they are pretty much children in their outlook, in their lack of maturity, in what they have been taught and children are having children and that can only lead to disaster in Trinidad.” Touching on the recent spate of murders, Kumar said the high homicide rate was also “unacceptable” and called for swift action to curb the spiralling homicide rate.
She said while there are initiatives in place to treat with crime, citizens were still not seeing swift action. “A crime committed is the same whether it is a male or mother,” she said. “We continue to be alarmed at the rate in which it continues. It’s quite high (the homicide rate) for the number of days in the year, it’s unacceptable. “I know there are initiatives in place, the Ministry of National Security is working on certain initiatives, but I don’t think we are seeing the quick action we need to see, to curb the number of murders that are happening.”
She also said it was also quite alarming that women were being targeted of late. “It’s a pity that we see women targeted, especially mothers, because you know in T&T there is a strong existence of single mothers and when the mother goes we wonder what happens with the kids after that.”