More than 50 arrests have been made while 108 charges have been laid against perpetrators of crimes against children so far this year.
This was disclosed by ASP Claire Guy-Alleyne of the Child Protection Unit of the T&T Police Service at yesterday’s weekly media briefing at the Police Administration Building, Port-of-Spain.
Guy-Alleyne said children are vulnerable to online predators who use fake profiles and engage in catfishing and warned parents and guardians to be alert.
“This is the act of luring (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona. Know the whereabouts of your child and be mindful of the company they keep. Be aware of the places where they socialise and with whom are they socialising. Are your children being supervised by adults or is it a peer controlled activity?” Guy-Alleyne said.
“Remember that you are responsible for your child and that responsibility means accountability. After Carnival, the issue of parents leaving their children in hospitals or dropping them off at public facilities as a form of babysitting became a topical issue. Please note that public spaces such as healthcare facilities, parks, cinemas and malls can be targeted by predators, as unsupervised children are always more vulnerable. Please take heed and execute your parental duty.”
On May 23, 2019, the CPU will celebrate its fourth anniversary. The unit is responsible for investigating sexual offences/abuse, physical abuse, abandonment/neglect and ill-treatment of children.
The unit works closely with the Children’s Authority and the Victim and Witness Support Unit of the T&T Police Service to ensure the care and protection of the nation’s children.
What the law says
According to the law, a child means a person under the age of eighteen years. If you are the parent, guardian or caregiver of a child who has been sexually abused in any way, the law mandates you to make a report to the police. Section 31 of the Sexual Offences Act, Chapter 11:28, states that any person who is the parent or guardian, has the custody, charge or control of a minor and has reasonable grounds for believing that a sexual offence has been committed in respect of that minor, shall report the grounds for his belief to a police officer as soon as reasonably practicable.
This section includes parents caregivers, guardians, teachers, medical practitioners, registered nurses and midwives.
If found guilty of an offence under this section, the fine is $15,000 imprisonment up to seven (7) years or you can be both fined and imprisoned. Remember, a child cannot consent to sexual activity.
The law also addresses the issue of obstructing prosecution.
Section 31A of the Sexual Offences Act, Chapter 11:28, states that a person who prevents a minor from giving a statement to the police or testifying in proceedings relating to a sexual offence, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction, to a fine of $20,000 and to imprisonment for a term of 10 years.