Beach owners here have voted by consensus during a meeting with police authorities to shutdown their beaches from 6am to 3pm every Friday to avoid kids under 18 from accessing them during school hours.
“Okay by consensus by the beach owners themselves, we have agreed in principle that they will close their entertainment places on Fridays so as to stop the children from going on the beach,” Police Inspector General Col. Patrick Sudue said Thursday, 14 June.
The consensus was reached after Mr. Sudue’s appeal that all beach owners at the meeting reach a consensus to shutdown from 6am until 3pm every Friday to prevent kids from going there during school hours.
He says police have no authority to close down any beach or taxpayers’ private businesses without justifiable reason, thus seeking their consensus to take such measure to save the lives of Liberia’s future leaders.
The meeting with businesses including clubs, beaches and shops owners was called by police to brainstorm and find ways to stop drugs and alcohol abuse by school kids during school hours, using entertainment centers.
Col. Sudue says police have launched “Operation Save the Children” to prevent the youth and students from abusing themselves. Kids here are said to use tramadol, codeine, marijuana and other harmful narcotic substances and take in alcoholic beverages at beaches, entertainment centers mainly on what they claim to be “Super Fridays” during school hours.
But Mr. Sudue warns that police will not sit for children to become wayward, noting that they will do everything to stop the juvenile delinquency here.
According to him, police have most often observed with grave concern that students on Fridays leave their various campuses and go to entertainment centers including beaches, with children under 18 doing a whole lot of unwholesome things like buying and drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana and cigarette.
The police want shops, entertainment centers and beaches to stop allowing students at their business places and serving them with liquor during school hours.
He says every Friday, police will do vigorous patrol and search at entertainment places to ensure that these students do not go to the limit of destroying themselves.
He specifically appeals to men and women attending the United Methodist University (UMU) on Ashmum Street to set the example for kids in high school to follow.
According to Col. Sudue, on Fridays if you go around the Liberia National Fire Service office, an entertainment center there is always occupied by students from UMU.
While acknowledging that UMU students are not kids, Col. Sudue is concerned that their action has effect on the larger society.He says the effect is that the little ones from elementary to high schools see these things going on and they follow.
Concerning use of tramadol and codeine, Col. Sudue says police will communicate with the Pharmaceutical Board and the Ministry of Health so that they can set up a kind of regulation to stop people from buying harmful drugs at the counter.
He says police will engage video clubs owners to deny kids access during school hours. To parents who take their kids at entertainment centers and give them alcoholic drinks, Col. Sudue says entertainment center owners should ask them out or call the police.
He says it would be considered as child abuse and endangering the life of the child under the new Penal Code Chapter 14 Sub – Section (b) 14.23.
“If that happens call the police immediately, we will not just put the person outside, but we will ensure that we prosecute the person. We will start to prosecute parents because parents are very lackadaisical in ensuring that their children [are] doing the right thing,” he says.
He also extends that to parents who allow their kids to sell between moving vehicles, saying this is not the pro – poor that “we are talking about” because it also endangers the lives of children.
He gives an instance that the Sinkor route through Congo Town is “flooded with kids” who are supposed to be in schools, but are selling.He thanked the stakeholders for coming and giving their support, and pledges to reach out to hotel owners too due to information that kids also go to hotels.
Business representatives at the meeting made separate comments, welcoming the meeting as something healthy for the development of the society.They recommend that police get parents, schools administrators, health authorities and other stakeholders involved for the campaign to be successful.
According to business representatives, when they deny kids their services, they go to supermarkets and buy their own drinks. According to them, kids are buying tramadol and codeine from pharmacies and using them.
They also ask police to go beyond patrolling beaches, because when these kids carry their own drinks and narcotics and get denied entry, they find some places that are not operated by anyone to use them.
Represented at the meeting were so many businesses and entertainment centers, including Exodus, Musu Incorporated, Miami Beach, Old Folks, M & M 2000, Face to Face Entertainment Center, Upper 18, View Point Entertainment Center, Never Walk Alone Entertainment Center, and Atlantic Incorporated, among others.
By Winston W. Parley