Definitely not acceptable!
This is how Director of the Child Care Board (CCB) Joan Crawford is branding a disturbing video which 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.
Stating she had received the report and had passed it on to police who are investigating, a seemingly furious Crawford this afternoon condemned the actions – or inactions – of the adults seen in the video as she expressed concern about the child’s welfare.
“These [types of incidents] are not acceptable. They are definitely not acceptable. They [the adults] are definitely not taking the best interest of the children at heart. And all adults, young persons, whoever is taking these videos, need to realize that they are doing an injustice to the children who may not be aware that these things are being done,” the child protection agency head told Barbados TODAY.
Crawford insisted that acts of this kind should not be condoned by anyone, emphasizing “it is not acceptable behaviour”.
Police spokesman Acting Inspector Rodney Inniss has confirmed that the Force is probing the matter.
The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) is also probing whether one of its employees was one of two adults in the video circulating on social media.
The male, who is engaged in a conversation with a woman while the child consumes the beverage, appears to be wearing a BWA uniform.
The state-owned water company issue a statement today in which it described the episode as “irresponsible and disgraceful”.
It said while the issue had “become a police matter and has also been referred to the Child Care Board, the BWA is also conducting an internal investigation”.
In the video where the child is observed sipping from the bottle, 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 the BWA uniform, can also be seen drinking from a Banks beer bottle.
Banks Holdings Limited (BHL) yesterday 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. Sometime 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.