A disturbing video has emerged of a young child seemingly drinking Banks beer, while a man and a woman engage in a conversation, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the child is there.
In the video making the rounds on social media, the child, believed to be a boy, is seen sipping from the Banks beer bottle, with a second bottle within reach.
While he sips the two adults hold a discussion, seemingly unconcerned about the drinking child, who at one point tried to join the conversation by saying something indiscernible. However, there are suggestions it was a reference to water.
The man, who appeared to be wearing a Barbados Water Authority uniform, can also be seen drinking from a Banks beer bottle.
Banks Holdings Limited (BHL) today issued a statement criticizing the exercise, stating that it abhorred alcohol abuse, particularly by people who were not of drinking age.
“Banks Holdings Limited (BHL) reiterates that our alcoholic beverages should only be responsibly consumed by persons over the age of 18,” the beverage manufacturer said in the statement from Sophia Cambridge, its legal and corporate affairs manager.
“We abhor any abuse of our alcoholic beverages in any form, but particularly by underaged persons.”
BHL said it did not know the identities of those involved, but that it had brought the matter to the attention of the Child Care Board and the Royal Barbados Police Force.
The practice of giving children alcohol has been a long-running concern for child rights agencies and individuals, who attempt to tackle a culture of alcohol abuse in a country which boasts of inventing rum.
In July last year, at the height of the Crop Over season, Director of Clinical Services at Marina House Angela Sealy had said she was worried that parents were introducing their children to alcohol, unwittingly or otherwise.
“When adults are drinking alcohol among children they would offer them a sip, or leave it lying around, and the children would take it up and drink it. Some time later, they may see the child lying around and think, ‘oh, they’re just tired’, but the child is actually drunk,” she said at the time.
In the 2012 Barbados Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, United Nations child rights agency, UNICEF, found that one out of every ten women had drunk alcohol before the age of 15.
And last December, the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) said its research had found that children as young as nine were experimenting with alcohol and marijuana, and this usage increased by the time these children entered secondary school.
When contacted this evening, police spokesman Acting Inspector Rodney Inniss told Barbados TODAY the matter was under investigation.
“We are investigating the legitimacy of the video, its time, date, place [and] location. That investigation must be done,” Inniss said.
“Any assistance from the general public on the matter is welcomed,” he added.