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Children need protection too

The trinidad Guardian / On Saturday June 10, 2017, we saw and heard the news that a 54-year-old mechanic was jailed for child porn. “He was found guilty of exposing two children, aged eight and ten, to child pornography while engaging in a sex act in their presence.”

Here is an adult male who I assume was trusted by the children’s parents, because these children were on a visit to the man’s home. I am sure that he was engaging in a sex act in his bedroom, or it could have been in his living room, where ever it was, this “act” took place in his house.

Now we have another adult male, a much older man, being very angry that the State was “inviting itself in the bedrooms of the population.” Then we have another man saying that the issue of child marriage is blown out of proportion and that we are not looking at the bigger picture.

One would want the State to stay out of our homes, and the other wants us to look at the bigger picture. I am here sitting at my laptop and wondering. My bigger picture is the growing number of young men and women who are joining those street-dwellers, and street-walkers, and the long lines at mental-health institutions to get their monthly or weekly doses of medication to keep them stable, and the growing number for young people who have thoughts of suicide. Maybe nobody entered their bedrooms to save them.

Apparently, we have two men—and I am sure that there are many others—who are clueless to the psychological and physical dangers that lurk in living rooms and bedrooms of homes. The children who live therein need protection, because they are vulnerable and are unable to protect themselves. There is another big man who took a minor to a dorm (bedroom) and raped her. It is reported that one of his colleagues opened the door and just turned back and continued on his way. He was one who swore to upkeep the laws of our land. This is why we need laws: to protect us from ourselves, to protect children, and to protect societies and communities from self-destruction.

Laws are rules that bind all people living in a country, a society and a community. Laws protect our general safety, and ensure our rights as citizens against abuses by other people, by organisations, and by the Government itself. We are living in a democracy, the last time I checked, and in a democracy, laws change over time.

The laws needed in 1962 when our constitution was born and in 1980, and now 2017 must be different. The legislative branch of Government must seek to update laws as needed, and the judicial branch has to interpret the laws so that they apply fairly to society at the time. For example, laws about bullying or stalking have had to be updated to consider social networking sites, cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking. The original laws didn’t take the internet into consideration. Laws about child marriage have had to be updated also because in the time that is now past, there was no Convention on the Rights of the Child, which says that someone is considered a child up to the age of 18 years. Trinidad and Tobago ratified this Convention on December 5, 1991.

Can you imagine what Trinidad and Tobago would be like without laws? We are already being described as a lawless society. There have been calls for everyone in our communities to be the eyes and ears for each other. There is the call: “If you see/hear something, Say something.” This call is credited to Buddhini Samarsinghe PhD, a molecular biologist.

Dr. Samarsinghe said: “The perpetrators of harassment and abuse are not monsters: they are often highly respected and inspiring figures at first. They can be our friends, colleagues, and mentors.”

Our children deserve a chance to grow up into mentally-healthy, productive, happy, responsible and contented adults and they depend on us, mentally-healthy, productive, happy, responsible and contented adults to protect them.

Anna Maria Mora is a former president of the T&T Association of Psychologists.

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