Kids drink alcohol at Stubbs lighting up
December 23, 2004
Kids drink alcohol at Stubbs lighting up

The adage “children don’t know their danger” seemed evident on the weekend when a group of boys were seen drinking alcohol at the Stubbs “Lighting Up” ceremony.

Asked where they got the beer, the group of boys, all under the age of 10, said it was bought from a vendor at the function. {{more}}

This incident is just a reflection of what often happens during the festive season.

Dr. Bharati Datta, head of the Paediatric Department at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, said she has treated several children in the past during the festive season for alcohol consumption.

She warns that alcohol consumption by children can have detrimental effects. The physician, who has been practising in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the past 21 years, said alcohol could cause a child to slip into a coma.

“Alcohol brings down the blood sugar in children. If it goes down to seriously low levels, they can slip into a coma,” said Dr. Datta.

She added that children ingesting alcohol also suffer serious effects to the stomach, along with distorting the functions of the liver. She said they can also suffer brain damage.

Dr. Datta noted that the reported cases might not be telling the magnitude of the problem. And, while alcohol is sold to children by some vendors, the medical officer said there are incidents where wine and rum are given to children by parents and caretakers.

She recalled treating a case of a five-year-old who was given alcohol to be put to bed. She also made reference to a child who went into a coma after drinking strong rum.

“The problem is there, it starts right in the home,” said Dr. Datta.

“You might be creating a chain of events when children are given or sold alcohol. With that first drink, you do not know what harm you have done,” she said adding that the end result can be children participating in sex and later “gory violence”.

Meanwhile Harvey Farrell, health educator in the Ministry of Health, said his department had dedicated Tuesday’s “Health Word” programme to alcohol abuse. He reiterated the effects Dr. Datta mentioned.

According to Farrell, the earlier children drink alcohol, the higher the chances of them becoming alcoholics.

He said people in general take undue risks under the influence of alcohol.

Nicole Sylvester, president of the Human Rights Association, said the sale of alcohol to children is illegal. She said the Human Rights Association “abhors and very strongly condemned the act”.

“This is just outrageous,” said Sylvester.

The prominent lawyer said incidents like these are responsible “for the seeds of violence” in the society.