(Trinidad Guardian) Gender, Youth and Child Development Minister Marlene Coudray is calling for criminal charges to be laid against the aunt of six-year-old Ronase Osbourne who perished in a fire at her Port-of-Spain, home on Friday. Coudray, speaking to reporters at the opening of the national parenting workshop for men in Marabella yesterday, said the child’s aunt Natalie Telesford acted irresponsibly and a strong message needed to be sent about leaving children unsupervised.
Telesford, according to media reports, went to a nearby parlour to purchase food for breakfast on Friday, leaving the sleeping child in the locked HDC apartment at Duncan Street. Telesford and another person tried to rescue the child but were unsuccessful. Telesford suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to hospital for treatment.
Coudray said, “An investigation should take place, yes. But a message has to be telegraphed in terms of people leaving children alone and young children alone in a house for whatever reason. There shall be no excuse for that, none.” She said children are unprotected when left alone and could be subjected to abuse.
“And therfore we need to send a message. I don’t know what the consequences are, but certainly the police will know whether there is a law under which she could be charged and be called to account for the way that child lost her life. It was irresponsible. I don’t care what the excuse is, nobody should leave any child, and that is the message and the teaching that should come out of this—nobody must leave any child unattended in a house alone, nobody.”
During her address at the Friendly Society Hall, Coudray said she understood that HDC was being blamed for the child’s death because there was no backdoor to the apartment. “When things happen in society we don’t look at our roles and responsibilities as parents, but we look to blame the government. Now did the government tell the woman to leave a child unprotected in a house alone and go to the shop and go wherever.”
She said Telesford could have asked a neighbour to “throw an eye” on the child, wake up the child or even make bake instead of going to buy bread. Underscoring the importance of the father in the family, Coudray said the ministry decided to shift its focus from women to men. The minister said the programme, which will be rolled out in other communities, will include parenting education, training and support.