Rising unemployment may be contributing to an increase in child abuse across the country says vice president of the Rapid Fire Kidz Foundation Rev Joy Abdul-Mohan as she vowed to partner with the Children's Authority to save abused children.
She was speaking to reporters during the Rapid Fire Kidz Foundation and Jay's Toy Box annual school's Christmas treat held at the Penal Government Primary School and the Suchit Trace Hindu School on Thursday.
Responding to the Children's Authority statistics that over 1,900 reports of child abuse and neglect were made in San Fernando and Princes Town over the past three years, Abdul-Mohan, a former independent senator, said there may be a correlation between child abuse and unemployment.
"With layoffs and retrenchment, there will be a level of crime and abuse. That's why all stakeholders must come on board.
We need schools, churches, mosques and temples to partner together to create a safe haven for abused children.
They must be empowered to identify the perpetrators so they will be brave enough to stand up and say they are being abused," Abdul-Mohan said.
She also said the Foundation had planned programmes for 2019 to visit Children's homes and offer educational and psychological assistance.
"Sometimes the stakeholders who assist these homes cannot do enough and this is why we have partnered with the stakeholders to ensure that abuse is alleviated.
We also plan to join the Children's Authority in visiting schools.
Abdul-Mohan said they were in close dialogue with the chairman of the Children's Authority Haniff Benjamin and was willing to partner with the CA to help disadvantaged children.
She also thanked the corporate sponsors who have been assisting the Foundation despite economic challenges.
This year, Abdul-Mohan said 536 children from the two schools were treated to toys and gift bags.
She also praised the teachers who have been working with the pupils and urged them to be on the lookout for signs of abuse.
This year with the economic downturn, the Rapid Fire Kidz Foundation was forced to scale back on their annual treat.
This year, Santa played by Kevin Ratiram came riding a horse into the Suchit Trace Hindu School.
The children were also treated to a dance from United By Dance Crew (UBDC) and Crazylegs Entertainment led by Kimron Ramparas.
Ratiram said apart from the treat, the Foundation, as well as UNI-TNT, will be treating the children of Ward 3 pediatric at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital between 10 am to 12 noon.
The group also installed a tree and a creche at the Palmiste Park play park which was built by the Foundation earlier this year.
Reporter: Radhica Sookraj- De Silva