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Strong child abuse trend in 2016-17

Sunday, December 3, 2017
Sharifa Ali-Abdullah

The Childrens' Authority of T&T received 5,522 reports of child abuse in 2016 requiring investigation and approximately 6,000 additional reports of abuse anticipated for this year, 2017. The situation was detailed in the authority's 2016 report, laid in Parliament on Tuesday.

The 2016 and projected 2017 figures show continuing strong child abuse trends in T&T.

In May 2016, Catt director Sharifa Ali-Abdullah cited 5,500 cases reported over May 2015 to May 2016.

In Catt's report for 2016, sexual abuse victims were largely female children while victims of neglect and those physically abused were mainly male children.

Districts of San Juan-Laventille and Tunapuna-Piarco recorded the highest number of reports of children suspected of being in need of care and protection in 2016.

Catt stated the 5,522 cases reported by the end of 2016 "far exceeded earlier projections of 1,200 cases per year", creating heavy demand on the authority resources.

With the anticipated 6,000 additional reports of abuse in 2017, Catt put service agencies on notice to receive cases and provide requisite services.

Reports of children in need of care and protection emanate from all across T&T, the report stated.

"However the administrative districts of San Juan-Laventille and Tunapuna-Piarco recorded the highest number of cases for any district—14 per cent and 13.3 per cent respectively."

Point Fortin (1. 6 per cent); Rio Claro-Mayaro (2.7 per cent); Mayaro and Tobago (2.5 per cent) logged the least number.

More than half (57.4 per cent ) of all cases brought to Catt's attention in 2016 involved female children, and 41.8 per cent males.

More girls sexually abused

Highest reported types of abuse were neglect, sexual abuse and physical abuse of children.

Just over half of all reports concerned neglect and sexual abuse of children—26.5 per cent reports concerning neglect and 24.7 per cent regarding sexual abuse. (See Box)

Reported cases of physical abuse was 16.2 per cent of total reports.

Some 50.2 per cent of physical abuse reports involved male children and 49.4 per cent, female.

However, the report noted, "Female children remained significantly more vulnerable to being victims of sexual abuse than males—84.6 per cent of all victims of sexual abuse being female."

In 2016, more than one third (35.7 per cent) of all female children brought to Catt's attention were reported as being victims of sexual abuse.

"The reports of the sexual abuse of female children greatly outnumbered those for male children, with only 9.3 per cent of all male children brought to Catt's attention being reported as sexual abuse victims. "

Children ten years and older were most susceptible to sexual abuse, with 23.9 per cent of all children reported as sexually abused being between the ages of ten and 13 years; 24.9 per cent between ages 14 and 15 years; and 22.4 per cent between ages 16 and 17 years.

Children at risk in 2016

• Highest number of cases reported in March 2016 (599); Lowest, July (294).

• Neglect reports - 26.5 per cent.

•Physical abuse - 16.2 per cent.

• Sexual abuse- 24.7 per cent

•Children begging/receiving alms - 0.6 per cent.

• Children needing supervision/beyond control - 7.6 per cent.

• Emotional abuse- 10.1 per cent

•Lacking care/guardianship - 9.7 per cent.

• Lost- 0.3 per cent.

•In moral danger- 1.8 per cent

• Other - 1.4 per cent.

• The team successfully completed investigation of 849 cases in 2016; commenced investigation into 366 additional cases at year end.



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