The Children's Authority is calling on the public to be more vigilant in spotting and reporting suspected cases of child abuse.
Responding to media reports of a 13-month-old baby girl from Rio Claro being a victim of sexual abuse, the authority yesterday issued a press releasing calling on anyone interacting with children to immediately report any suspected instances of abuse to it or the police.
"The Authority notes that by becoming aware of the signs of child abuse, we can protect our children from continued mistreatment. Therefore, the public is reminded to report any sign or suspicion of child abuse to the Police or to the Authority's hotlines at 996 or 800-2014," the release said.
Stating that there is an "acute and disturbing problem of child cruelty in T&T", the authority expressed shock and horror over the report of the toddler allegedly being abused by a 48-year-old neighbour and her mother's 20-year-old boyfriend, who remained in police custody up to late yesterday.
"The Authority is currently working with the Child Protection Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service to provide support services to the baby and her family. As usual, the Authority is treating the matter with the sensitivity and confidentiality it deserves," the authority said as it noted that its Emergency Response Team was called out yesterday to rescue two other victims of sexual abuse. Those victims will remain under the care of the authority while their case is being investigated by police.
The authority also commended the baby's grandmother, who reportedly realised that the child had been abused and reported it to police.
"Since child abuse often occurs in the home, it is important for everyone to be aware that they have a responsibility to protect children," the release said.
According to reports, the child's 42-year-old grandmother became suspicious after the child became irritable while having a bath.
The incident was reported to police and the child was taken to the Sangre Grande District Hospital where she received treatment and it was confirmed that she had been sexually assaulted.
The two suspects were subsequently arrested. They had not been charged up to late yesterday.