The Trinidad Guardian / Officials of the Children’s Authority say they are investigating reports of children being abused at a home in St Augustine.

Shemelle Paradice, senior communications associate, confirmed yesterday that the case was brought to their attention by residents of the area. She said the Authority’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) was dispatched to locate the children, investigate the report and to determine the necessary intervention.

“From the investigation, it was determined that the children were at risk and plans were initiated to have the children relocated to a safe place,” she said.

Residents called the police after hearing screams for help from the siblings who were allegedly being abused by close relatives on Saturday night. Yesterday morning. residents told the T&T Guardian they were concerned for the safety of the children, ranging in age from one to ten.

Eyewitnesses claimed the children had been badly beaten about their heads and bodies by a close male relative and that a close female relative, who is also a victim of severe abuse, also physically abuses them.

The children were had been staying at the home for the past 17 months after their home was destroyed by fire.

Concerned neighbours, who claimed that three of the children are regularly tied up and beaten by the male relative, shared videos purporting to show the children with bruises about their bodies from the beatings. In one video, a boy says he was beaten after he complained about being hungry, was placed under a bed and tied up. The children told neighbours they are beaten with pieces of iron, cables and a hammer. One of them lifted his jersey to showed multiple wounds to his back.

“We would hear these children screaming for their lives. The police came a few times after they were called by people around who would be hearing the loud impact of the lashes. We would see the police there and we would see the police leave and the children still there,” said one resident said, who wished not to be identified.

“We often saw them stripped naked and beaten. For days they tell us they are not given anything to eat. They would be forced to sleep on the cold concrete without sheets or pillows.”

An officer at the St Joseph Police Station confirmed that they had responded to a report of abuse on Saturday night but did not give further information. An official at the Ministry of Social Development’s Social Welfare Division confirmed that the Division is aware of the case and has launched an investigation.

Paradice said the Children’s Authority is deeply concern that physical abuse continues to be one of the most common types of abuse reported to its hotline.

She said the Children’s Act 2012 permits only parents and guardians to apply ‘reasonable’ corporal punishment of children and forbids such punishment to be applied by anyone else.

“The Authority called on parents and guardians to adopt alternative forms of parenting such as positive reinforcement for good behaviour, establishing rules and the choice and consequence technique, to reduce the need for corporal punishment,” she said.

“The public is reminded that if they have any concerns or suspicions about a child’s safety, they should make a report to the Children’s Authority Hotline at 996 or 800-2014.”

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