By Latrishka Thomas
The consumption of alcohol by teens is becoming an increasingly pressing issue during the Carnival season. Police are therefore imploring vendors and mas’ organizers to exercise extreme vigilance during the carnival festivities to ensure that underaged revelers are not served alcoholic drinks.
According to Police Public Relations Officer, Inspector Frankie Thomas, “It is the general responsibility of the organizers, promoters of these various mas’ troupes, groups, whatever it is, to ensure that those who they have participating in Carnival are taken care of, or every effort must be made to ensure that these are not young people engaging in the consumption of alcohol or alcoholic beverages for that matter.
“The police can [only] do so much, but at the same time, it is the greater responsibility of these organizers to ensure that proper measures are put in place to discourage young people, underaged children, from engaging in the consumption of alcoholic beverages,” he continued.
Thomas, noting that youngsters tend to find loopholes within the law, also requested that adults desist from buying alcoholic drinks for young carnival goers.
“Of course, some of them are smart enough to try and have adults purchase alcohol for them, but adults should also be responsible people and do not engage in this illegal act, do not buy alcoholic beverages for young people and that is all we are asking. If we are to see a reduction in young people consuming alcoholic beverages, all of us must be on board and be more responsible than we are. The police cannot police everything, hence, we ask the general public to exercise greater responsibility in ensuring that some of these things that we are seeing happening do not happen,” Thomas said.
In fact, the seriousness of the issue was revealed on Sunday when the Acting Deputy Director of the Family and Social Services Division with responsibility for The Substance Abuse Prevention, Feona Charles-Richards, told listeners of OBSERVER media’sBig Issues programme that Antigua and Barbuda ranks number three in the region in adolescent substance abuse and that “the two prominent substances that are highlighted in their use are alcohol and marijuana.”
She added that underaged drinking is becoming too much of a norm in the region especially during the Carnival season.