The decision to implement age restrictions for adult-oriented shows in Carnival Village during the 2016 Carnival season (see related story) was the right thing to do. Member of Parliament Tamara Leonard (UP) had touched on the issue in Saturday’s paper.
She pointed to the Children Act of 2012 in Trinidad and Tobago, and called for fining neglectful parents whose offspring are out on the street without adult supervision. That might not always be a simple matter in practice, but the risk of being penalised alone could certainly help prompt people to act more responsibly.
St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) has put the limit at 15-year-olds, with which not everybody probably will agree, but the line had to be drawn somewhere. It must be noted that the measure won’t apply to events directed at the youth, but these normally are scheduled to finish considerably earlier.
Special mention was made of booth-holders bringing their small children with them and having them stay there until the late night hours. This is obviously not a good idea, especially when there is school the next day.
Of course, the intention is not to advocate keeping the youth away from the Dutch side’s premier cultural celebration; to the contrary. Involving children as early as possible remains necessary to safeguard the long-term continuity of what is also an economically very important festival, but that’s why there are activities specifically targeting them.
The bottom line is that the general education and wellbeing of the island’s future generations outweigh all other considerations. Keeping this in mind and taking steps accordingly is a sign of maturity and social accountability that ultimately will benefit the entire community and Carnival itself.