Teachers warned on child porn

Schoolteachers were publicly warned that the possession of child pornography on their smartphones could land them in jail for five years.

The warning came in a speech by Darlene Smith, co-ordinator of the guidance and counselling at the ministry’s Student Services Support Division, detailing the Children Act.

She spoke at yesterday’s launch of the Ministry of Education’s Revised School Code of Conduct at Government Campus Plaza, Port of Spain.

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“Let me highlight – and the act spells it out: If any of you, in a position of trust, is found with pornographic material of a minor on a cellular phone or hand-held devices, you can face five years’ jail or a $30,000 fine.

“This is serious business. It is why the Ministry of Education felt it was necessary to do this revision to the National Code of Conduct.”

Smith said anyone in a position of trust, such as a teacher, who sexually abuses a pupil will face life in jail.

“The position of trust means, under the new legislation, that anyone who has a duty to care (for) and protect a child, the law is going to treat with you more severely when it comes to child sexual abuse. This is so critical that you may face life imprisonment.”

Smith spelt out the office-holders to whom this applies as “teacher, head of department, dean, principal, vice-principal, curriculum officer, school supervisor, guidance officer, school social worker, coach or prefect – the whole gamut.”

She said stakeholders in education are more accountable than others.

“In the Magistrates’ Court the fine is a little lower, 20 years’ jail, $50,000. But these are serious fines.”

She said the Children Act also holds law-enforcement officers such as police, prison and customs officers to a higher standard regarding child abuse.

Smith warned that anyone in a position of trust over pupils such as a teacher who has reasonable belief that a sexual offence against a child has occurred is duty-bound to report it to the police, or the Children’s Authority. She urged all to lock hands to support pupils to make school a safe place even if homes were not safe.

“School, at the end of the day ,is supposed to be a happy place. Like Michael Jackson said, let’s heal the world so school would be a better place for you and for me.”

Source: Newsday https://newsday.co.tt/2018/11/13/teachers-warned-on-child-porn/

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