Trinidad Express – A Child Protection Unit (CPU) police officer has suggested that a parent’s refusal to get a child vaccinated against Covid-19 could be likened to a form of child abuse.
This was the opinion of Sgt Valerie Hospedales when she spoke Thursday on CCN TV6’s Beyond the Tape programme.
The issue of parents who object to their children being vaccinated before they return to face-to-face classes on October 1 was raised during the programme.
Hospedales reminded that prior to Covid-19, children had to be vaccinated to enter primary school.
“If we want to question that our children may have a health condition, parents should consult their doctors on the way forward,” she advised.
She said a parent had contacted the CPU about her hesitation in getting her child the vaccine because the child was anaemic.
She advised the parent to seek medical clarification.
“While no one vaccine is a one-time fix, we have repeated measles shots, repeated tetanus shots. So, what makes the Covid vaccine so different?
“So, I would say that not giving your child the opportunity to fight off this pandemic that we are all in, that may more or less amount to child abuse,” Hospedales opined.
She also raised the issue of parents who have been using their children to solicit funds from strangers because they had lost their jobs during the pandemic.
“Begging is an offence,” she said. “Don’t use your child as an opportunity to get money, as the penalty attaches in a fine of $3,000 and six months in jail.”
She explained that some adults coerced not only their children, but nieces and nephews would also be sent to beg.
“And then we ask why are children missing. Parents, please find another way to solicit funds for your children,” she said.
She said children working was not against the law, but the business had to be a family-run one with proceeds received used to directly take care of the children, and their work activity could not be done during school hours.
She also advised parents to monitor their children’s devices with Internet access.
She said, “Adults are luring these children and getting them through technology.”
She pointed out that there were social media groups which are used to lure children.
“That small space of a child’s bedroom is now a public space with technology. Parents purchase these devices for their children for online schooling which is good, but that child could be speaking to someone on Instagram, Facebook or even WhatsApp…who are they communicating with at 9 p.m.?” she asked.