Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 29th 2017 Contents A4 news
guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 29, 2017
Over 9,000 teenage
Trinidad in 5 years
There was a total of 9,466 teenage pregnancies reported
at the nation's hospitals between 2011 and 2015.
According to a report from the Ministry of Health Annual Sta-
tistical Report on Teenage Pregnancies, between 2011 and 2015,
there were over 4,000 reported teenage pregnancies at the San
Fernando General Hospital.
At the same hospital in 2015, there were 1,002 pregnancies
among teenagers between the ages of 17 and 19.
The report obtained by the T&T Guardian did not disclose
whether the reports were live births or just reported teenage
The ministry also did not give a figure on the number reported
Altogether, there were over 9,000 teenage pregnancies between
2011 and 2015 at the Sangre Grande District Hospital, Port-of-
Spain General Hospital, Mt Hope Women's Hospital and
the San Fernando General Hospital.
The report stated that over the years there were even
children under the age of 12.
There were 23 reported teenage pregnancies at the
San Fernando General Hospital under the age of 12,
and 13 been in 2013.
In 2012, there were 497 teenage pregnancies among
teenagers between the ages of 17 and 19. Thi was re-
ported at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
The report said that in 2011 there were 616 pregnant
teenagers at the same hospital.
When questioned, Education Minister Anthony
Garcia said teenage pregnancy was a concern to the
ministry despite sexual education being taught at the
In an interview yesterday, Garcia said sexual ed-
ucation was part of the curriculum in both primary
and secondary schools.
"Students must have respect for themselves and their
bodies and what they should do and not do. The topic is infused
in the curriculum, in the primary school and a stand alone in
secondary school as family life education," he said.
The minister said there were a lot of these incidents occurring
with the focus now on social media.
"Because very often the children suffer losses in their education,
although the ministry has protocols where our student support
services offer support to those students. We intend to carry out
their education and they are encouraged to continue her (student)
He said there were instances where students became pregnant
and were encouraged to continue with their education and made
good strides in their own personal development.
Secretary of the Psychiatrists Association,Varma Deyalsingh,
said there was always concern regarding teenage pregnancy.
"The issue with teens is that you have them experimenting
with sex and there were always issues with caregivers," he said.
Deyalsingh said several years ago there was a high figure for
teen pregnancies and sexual education was necessary.
"There is a lot of other ramifications like taking care of the child
where it is a vicious cycle with parenting. Now this will continue
where it won't have bonding and give trouble," he said.
He said there were younger children experimenting with
sex because of social media and advertisements where
there is sex and sexuality.
"There are teenage girls who are prey to maxi drivers
and are prey to older men. How do we look at that? We
have to teach those girls and put things in order," he said.
Deyalsingh said the law was changed where it was
unlawful to have sex with someone under the age of 18.
"By changing the law it puts us in a bind but we still
have the reality of younger children having sex. If we don't report
it, we could be charged. That is something we need to work out.
Once a minor is having sex, we should report it," he said.
He said there were several factors that come into play.
"We have to counter the hormonal changes, sexual abuse, society
at large which is sexual and adults who prey on younger girls and
trying to come out of a life style.
"In the schools settings we have to depend on the guards, teach-
ers to be vigilant and other students, those who are hyper-sexual
and having problems at homes," he said.
to give 'licks'
Although teachers and counsel-
lors are banned from administering
corporal punishment in schools and
are only allowed to discharge "rea-
sonable punishment" as mandated
by the law, only a parent or guardian
is legally able to administer "licks"
to a child.
However, according to the Children's
Authority publication titled A Teach-
er's Guide to the New Child Protection
Legislation, this means that parents/
guardians too must ensure that, "Even
in those circumstances, it must be
During her contribution in the
Senate debate on the opposi-
tion's crime motion on Tues-
day, Labour Minister Jennif-
er Baptiste-Primus recalled
the days of old when a sound
"licking" would be employed
as the means to ensure that a
child remained on the straight
Senior officials at the
Ministry of Education yes-
terday said they were guided
by the law and therefore, had
banned corporal punishment
as one of the methods used to
discipline children in schools.
Adding that schools had intro-
duced the system of detention as
one method of discipline designed
to deter students from engaging in neg-
ative behaviour, the officials agreed that
children today could suffer much "hurt"
when their movements are curtailed and
luxury items such as cell-phones, tablets,
lap-tops and ipads are taken away.
They added that this, along with a
strict curfew and regulation of televi-
sion/movie time could have an equal
effect on the child, almost akin to that
of a "good dose of licks like we got from
According to the Children Act 2012,
Section 4 (6), "Nothing in this section
shall be construed as affecting the right
of any parent, teacher or other person
having the lawful control or charge of a
child to administer reasonable punish-
ment to such a child."
Section 4 (7) also states, "Reasonable
punishment referred to in subsection
(6) in relation to any person other than
a parent or guardian, shall not
include corporal punishment."
In April 2014, deceased
Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal
weighed in on the issue in her
weekly newspaper column as
she commented on the video of
a mother beating her 12-year-
old daughter which had been
featured on Facebook, and which once
again raised the spectre of the unresolved
issue of the use of corporal punishment
to discipline children who misbehave.
At the time, former prime minister
Kamla Persad Bissessar agreed to exam-
ine the possibility of banning corporal
punishment in the home in the same way
it was prohibited in schools.
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