IF you let your teenage daughter attend a Carnival fete unsupervised and she is harmed, you can be held legally liable.
This was the warning to parents by ASP Joanne Archie, the Police Service’s public information officer, during yesterday’s weekly press briefing at Police Headquarters in Port of Spain.
Last Tuesday Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh said there are over 2,500 teen pregnancies each year with most of them for fathers in the 25 to 40 age group.
Archie said yesterday she did not know where Gopeesingh got his statistics.
Since Gopeesingh’s statement Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar issued a reminder to parents, doctors, nurses, teachers and employers that they could be spend seven years in prison and face a $1,500 fine if they have reason to believe a minor is sexually active and fail to report it to the police.
This is according to Section 31 (1) of the Sexual Offences Act.
Archie yesterday said the Police Service had “zero tolerance” toward these sorts of offences.
“I want to take this opportunity to address parents who allow their teenage daughters to attend Carnival fetes and other social events unsupervised. We advise that they should be accompanied by a responsible adult,” Archie said.
“Parents, you owe a duty of care to your children and you can be held legally liable for any harm that may befall your child once it has been discovered that you were negligent in discharging your responsibilities.”
Archie also warned parents to be responsible when leaving their children in the care of other people.
“We again caution parents and guardians. In keeping with the tradition of Carnival, you may want to engage in Carnival celebrations, which may involve attending fetes and other functions and even play mas on Carnival Monday and Tuesday,” Archie said.
“Please consider the welfare of your child if you have to seek the service of a babysitter, please ensure that that person is a responsible adult ,” she said.
Archie called on parents to conduct “thorough background checks” before a child is left in the custody of someone else.
“Be wary of older children or adults who want to spend a lot of time alone with your child,” she said.
Archie said Under Section 21 of the Sexual Offences Act it is an offence for a householder to permit “the defilement of a minor under 16 years of age”.
According to that section of the Act any person who has control of a premises and allows sexual intercourse with a minor can face ten years in prison.