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a huge lesson for all…

Trinidad Express / NEWS yesterday, about the drowning of a three-year-old boy who went to the beach in Chaguaramas with his parents, appears to have provided tragically powerful corroboration to the assertion made on the weekend by Presbyterian minister, the Reverend Daniel Teelucksingh.

Addressing a gathering at a function organised by the Rapidfire Kidz Foundation Saturday night, Reverend Teelucksingh concluded that Trinidad and Tobago had become a bad place for children to be growing up in.

He cited a number of incidents in recent years, in which innocent lives were snuffed out in one dreadful manner or the other. He referred to some of the numerous cases in which children were being abused, ill-treated or maimed.

He drew reference to the fact that, in many supposed cases, people provide better care for their pets, and that that appears to be the lot of too many of the nation’s children.

Saying that there are cases, too many to mention, about children in various situations of distress, discomfort, neglect, ill-treatment and jeopardy, Reverend Teelucksingh uttered the lament that this represents a national embarrassment.

He did not make reference to the existence of the Children’s Authority, the premier agency established to look after the protection of children, but which itself has come under unflattering scrutiny in recent months.

There are a number of cases in which, also, children and young teenagers in homes where they are supposed to enjoy protection, peace and comfort, are also being revealed as victims of abuse of mistreatment.

And to add insult to these forms of actual injury and death, Reverend Teelucksingh referred to the existence of the laws and protocols governing the protection of children and the rights of the child in Trinidad and Tobago.

“We need to put a heart to these laws, and to put a face to these laws,” he urged in his address on Saturday night.

But as the country was digesting this lament yesterday, news broke of the three-year-old boy who drowned at Williams Bay in Chaguaramas. He was in the care of both his parents, but somehow his mother left him in the care of another adult and went to attend to another child. The boy was discovered missing sometime afterwards, and his body washed ashore early yesterday morning.

This is the kind of tragedy that is entirely avoidable. And while it must be difficult to ascribe blame to a parent, or to both parents in a situation in which a young child’s life was snatched away in such a manner, there is no denying that a great measure of carelessness was at play here.

It is difficult in these circumstances to come to terms with the fact that parents would not exercise the presence of mind necessary to prevent them from leaving a three-year-old child in the sea. It turns out that he was left unattended and unsupervised, even in the presence of others in the sea-bathing party.

The grief and the remorse that must attend them both will naturally be unbearable. But this has to be a huge lesson for all who will encounter this tragic affair.

The care and protection of our children must be a matter of paramount importance, no less to parents and guardians, than to others on whom such responsibility falls, at any given time.

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