Supt Claire Guy-Alleyne –
Teachers, priests and parents were among those accused of sexually assaulting children in their care over the past two years.
This according to ASP Christopher Aroon, who gave the statistics during a police media briefing at its headquarters in Port of Spain on Thursday morning.
Aroon said, in 2023, 504 parents and family members were accused of sexual assault, while there were reports against 15 teachers. He said the statistics for 2022 were similar.
“In terms of family members (accused of sexual abuse) in 2023, there were 504 alleged perpetrators; intimate relationships between minors, there were 72; family friends were ten; schoolmates 69; neighbours 18; guardians and caregivers four; teachers/principals 15; taxi drivers four; wards and residents eight; school personnel one.”
He said, in 2022, two priests were arrested and charged for sexually assaulting children while one priest was arrested and charged on Wednesday.
In the past two weeks, two police officers have also been charged with sexual assault, he said.
Aroon said in 2022, 76 people were arrested and charged with varying forms of child abuse, while 106 people have been arrested and charged for this year.
“We also arrested a fire officer but he was released pending enquiries. We also have active investigations involving clergymen and other people in society.”
Giving statistics on victims, Aroon said in 2023, reports of various types of child abuse involved 995 female victims and 222 males. Those victims were between the ages of zero to 17.
Head of the Special Victims Department Supt Claire Guy-Alleyne warned parents, guardians and other caretakers of children to ensure their charges were supervised at all times.
She said it was essential to recognise signs of abuse, including withdrawal; lack of appetite; unexplained injuries and bruises; as early as possible to save children from their abusers.
Guy-Alleyne said it was crucial that children were left in the care of competent, trusted adults.
“Even some family members cannot be trusted.
She urged parents to continuously monitor their children’s activities, online and offline.
She said unmonitored online use could lead to children becoming victims of human trafficking and children being exposed to pornography.
Children are especially vulnerable when left alone for long periods, she said.
“We really do see an up tick in the month of September, when school reopens, a lot of sexual abuse. Children will be left alone and unsupervised and that creates an atmosphere for abuse to thrive so that’s why we are pleading with parents and caregivers to ensure that children are supervised at all times.”
She also urged parents to do background checks before handing over their children to the care of strangers, including those who run vacation camps.
“Ensure you do your due diligence…Trinidad and Tobago is a really small place.
“You don’t really need the police alone to do your background checks. You can also speak to neighbours, speak to other parents, and obtain the information as to whether to a particular coach or a particular organisation who is running camps, whether the adults who are taking care of these camps are responsible persons.
“Those are conversations we must have openly and candidly, can I trust these people? Are these people trustworthy, we need to have these conversations.”