THE coronavirus has caused an “unplanned vacation” for thousands of students and Brent Batson, co-ordinator of the TTPS Strategic Road Safety Project, is appealing to parents to be vigilant about who their children associate with during this period. Batson told parents at an Eyes Right function at Duncan Village, San Fernando, how easy it was for students to be lured by criminals with material things, including phones and fancy clothes
“The sad reality is that there’s a bad batch of people out there. We the police encounter them every day. Gun dealers, drug dealers, gang members, gang leaders. These are people who are preying upon the youth in our society and even the children and teenagers in our society. They are recruiting them for a life of crime from an early age.”
He noted that sometimes when there are children coming from economically challenged households where parents are not able to afford the glamorous items other teenagers are sporting, “criminals are luring youngsters with fancy clothes and shoes, phones and techy gadgets.”
He said it was easy for children at such a vulnerable age to yield to these temptations and become part of the gangland culture. Batson acknowledged some parents are so busy working that they’re unable to monitor their children’s activities and who they associate with especially during the day.
However, he impressed upon parents, “We need to talk to our kids, find out who their friends are, meet their friends, meet their friends’ parents, find out who they lime with, where they lime, and what they do while liming”.
Batson applauded one of the initiatives of the police service, Police Youth Clubs, which he said gave youths guidance and mentoring to save them from a life of crime and gang activity. He said the goal is for many of the children in this programme to see the police, and not the gangs, as their families.
The Eyes Right function is an initiative of the Rapidfire Kidz Foundation, which has been providing free eyeglasses to primary school students throughout the country. President of the foundation, Kevin Ratiram, said 818 pairs of glasses have been donated to children since the programme started in 2014.
Between 2018 to 2019, Nu Iron Unlimited financed the project. When their sponsorship ended last year, Hard Rock Cafe came on board to ensure the continuation of the project. Ratiram expressed gratitude to Hard Rock’s director Sherry Persad, who assisted in the presentation of glasses to 35 students from the Caanan Presbyterian Primary School.
Persad said the international restaurant franchise had many mantras, including the protection of children, environmental protection and equality for women. She said that they were pleased to come on board as a sponsor and encouraged other corporate bodies to do likewise. Batson also commended the two organisations for embarking on the project, saying that now more than ever there was a need to invest in children and youth.