Multi-sector collaboration to safeguard, protect, and empower children and youth

23rd December, 2022 – Port-of-Spain:  Over 500 local and migrant children across Trinidad and Tobago are leading efforts to end violence and abuse in their schools and communities.

The participants in the Spotlight Heroes Programme are implementing projects in 30 Secondary Schools and in various communities to address issues important to them, including bullying, school violence, child abuse, gender-based violence, sexual harassment, and anger management. 

Designed and delivered by the Heroes Foundation and UNICEF in support of the Spotlight Initiative, the Spotlight Heroes Programme started in April 2022 to educate and empower children and youth to lead and demand lives free from violence and abuse. 

Participants received training in gender-sensitivity, leadership, advocacy, communication, technology skills, and project management, and developed project plans to address problems experienced in their schools and communities. 

To date, over 9,000 persons have been engaged in-person in youth-led education and advocacy projects, and over 775,000 have been reached through social media as participants raise their voices to inspire positive behaviour change, safety, and respect for children and youth.

The Spotlight Initiative is a global initiative of the United Nations which has received generous support from the European Union. Its aim is to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. 

The Spotlight Heroes Programme is supported by several Ministries and entities committed to safeguarding and protecting children and youth in Trinidad and Tobago, including the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs), the Ministry of Education, the Tobago House of Assembly, and the Pan-American Development Foundation.

Students from Southeast Secondary School, after a school workshop against sexual harassment.
Heroes Team and local and migrant Heroes participants with Permanent Secretary Vijay Gangapersad and Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy from the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs).



Digital media campaign launched highlighting the voices of children and youth to end violence and abuse.

Tuesday 13th September, 2022: The Heroes Foundation and the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago in support of the Spotlight Initiative have launched a digital media campaign that highlights the voices, views, thoughts, and opinions of children and youth across Trinidad and Tobago on eliminating violence and abuse against children, particularly gender-based violence.  

The Campaign leverages stories and insights from the lived experiences of over four hundred (400) children on what makes them feel unsafe and their recommendations for addressing the problems they experience.  

Key insights include:  

VIOLENCE AND ABUSE ARE NOT OKAY: Violence and abuse should not be a normalised part of life.  While we may see it around us, it is not something we should accept or be forced to face.  

VIOLENCE AND ABUSE ARE EVERYONE’S BUSINESS: We have a culture of ignoring abuse or distancing ourselves from violence when we see it, but we have a responsibility to challenge it. 

ABUSE IS NOT DISCIPLINE: Parents and caretakers sometimes defend corporal punishment as the most effective form of discipline.  Discipline that instils fear or inflicts hurt or harm instead of imparting a lesson is abuse.  It’s important to think before you act when it comes to discipline; actions have lasting consequences on the lives of children.  

BOYS AND MEN ARE VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE AND ABUSE, TOO: Men and boys are often typecast as the lone perpetrators of violence and ignored as victims, but boys and men are often victims themselves.  It’s important to create safe spaces for men and boys to express emotions, be listened to without judgement, and get help when needed.  It’s also important to show men and boys how to deal with their feeling and emotions in safe and healthy ways.   

WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT’S RIGHT AND WHAT’S NOT: Education and re-education are critical to addressing violence against children and gender-based violence.  There are many behaviours and practices which cause hurt and harm that we’ve learnt to accept but are not right.  Sometimes we need help understanding when our words and actions are not right, and we may need to be shown how to behave differently.  

VIOLENCE AND ABUSE AGAINST CHILDREN CANNOT BE STOPPED BY CHILDREN ALONE: Adults need to know and understand when they are causing hurt and harm to children.  Addressing violence and abuse against children must involve re-educating adults on how to support, care for, and guide children well.  

Heroes Foundation CEO Lawrence Arjoon with Campaign Youth Production team Tahirah Mc Donald, Meagan Primus, Oba Hyland. 

Heroes Campaign Youth Production team members 

YOU CAN GET HELP: There are people who can and will help if you are a victim of violence and abuse.  Use the reporting channels to get help: 

  • Police:999  
  • Children’s Authority: 996  
  • ChildLine: 131 

The Spotlight Initiative is a global initiative of the United Nations which has received generous support from the European Union. It aims to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.  

Campaign content can be found on all social media platforms for the organisations.