PSYCHOLOGIST Dr Varma Deyalsingh believes a double standard in the norms and values of people is behind the youths going astray. His comments came after a video circulated on social media where a group of young boys was consuming what is believed to be alcohol and “partying” in a manner which adults do.
The video which was recorded in San Fernando sparked outrage on social media platforms, where questions were raised about the children’s supervision or lack thereof. Newsday was told the Child Protection Unit (CPU) launched an investigation and the names, ages and location of the parents and children were obtained.
No further details were given on the matter, except that an interactive session with all parties involved will be conducted this weekend.
Deyalsingh said it was the responsibility of adults to protect the youth, but double standards are blatantly displayed as part of culture. “We have a drinking culture. Our drinking culture is at wakes, weddings, Christmas, our carnival culture is of wine, women and song. When people visit home, we offer alcohol.
“From a national survey in 2017, nearly two out of three households use alcohol. Alcohol must not be seen as a family activity,” Deyalsingh said. He added that while there are many reasons for consumption such as rebellion, thrill seeking, peer pressure, curiosity, a coping mechanism and heredity, extra efforts must be put in place to deter abuse and use of the substance at such a young age.
Deyalsingh said there continues to be a lack of action by the authorities on the issue. “We have bars opening up near schools and places of worship although it is against the law to have one within 400 meters, but the authorities are not acting on this.
“Citizens should report any such infractions to our MPs and the Commissioner of Police so they can act on our behalf,” he said. He said, “Since 2011 we had a global school-based student health survey (GSHS) which showed that in TT that 13-15 year olds or 36.4 per cent of students had an alcoholic drink in the month preceding the survey, with 86.5 per cent of these children admitting to having a first alcoholic drink before the age of 14.”
Deyalsingh said this was alarming because it was and is known that alcohol is a problem amongst children, yet little has been done to curb its use.