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Don’t wine on children for Carnival, warns Trinidad gov’t

By Camille Hunte

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(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) — The Ministry of Education has issued a stern warning to the public to refrain from inappropriate activities with minors during the Carnival season.

This includes gyrating on or serving alcoholic drinks to ­underage persons.

Speaking during a news conference at the Education Ministry in Port of Spain yesterday, guidance officer Darlene Smith cautioned some minors may appear older than they really are. But she said adults must be responsible. “Adults, do not use the umbrella of Carnival to dance on or gyrate on minor children. This can be construed as sexual grooming, which is an offence and will not be acceptable…,” she warned.

Smith reminded the public serving alcohol to minors is also an offence. “I am appealing to the adult males to please do not use the umbrella of Carnival to give minors drugs and alcohol. Alcohol is more easily accessible during this upcoming period… parents and guardians, please observe what drinks your children have access to at home, in the neighbourhood and by friends.”

She added the ministry has received several reports of non-nationals targeting students and offering alcoholic drinks, and the ministry has been made aware of certain drugs circulating at parties. “We are appealing to young people—if you must go to ­parties or fetes, please stay in groups, be alert and watch out for each other.”

Smith said Carnival bands, too, have a responsibility to protect underage persons who may be participating. “We do have Form Four, Five and Six students who play in several all-inclusive bands and have access to alcohol while playing mas on both Carnival Monday and Tuesday. Please have some mechanism to desist from serving these minors with alcohol in these critical days.”

Smith said while persons are encouraged to have fun and enjoy the Carnival festivities, this must not be done in a manner that would “stain and corrupt” children.

The ministry has embarked upon a Carnival safety and awareness campaign and has visited some 320 primary schools and 78 secondary schools to hold sensitisation sessions with students.

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