Underage Alcohol Consumption: Fines and jail terms await facilitators

Viral videos of children, thought to be  pre-teens pleasantly gulping alcohol in what looks like a drinking spot has been making rounds on social media lately.

A male voice of of a supposed adult is heard in one of the videos, cheering the kids on as they savour the alcoholic drinks with relish. 

In another video, children each holding a bottle of alcoholic drink can be seen dancing and cuddling each other in very suggestive manners.

The venues of  the incidents are not  known, but the videos have sparked widespread outrage among parents, with many calling for the bar owners to be fished out and brought to book.

Selling alcohol to underage children or facilitating its consumption is punishable by the Cameroonian law.

The law considers any person below 21 as  a minor, and prohibits them from consuming alcohol. Facilitating alcohol consumption for underage children is also punishable by law.

It is unlawful for any person to sell, give, or  supply liquor to any person under the age of twenty-one years or permit any person under that age to consume liquor on his or her premises or on any premises under his or her control.

Anyone who serves or facilitates the consumption of the strong drinks for a person below 16 is liable to pay a  fine of between FCFA5000-50,000.

The punishment for corrupting youths of less than 21 years also includes a jail term of  1-5 years, and a fine of 20,000 to 1 million. This fine doubles if the person being corrupted is less than 16 years old.

In case of drunkenness, the fine ranges from 15days to 1 month imprisonment, and a fine of FCFA10,000 to 100,000.

The bar tender where the drinks were bought could also see his bar closed.

Anyone who proves beyond reasonable doubt that they erroneously judged the ages of the minor or person accompanying them is exempted from the above sanctions.

Some people are of the opinion that the sanctions to be meted to such persons who facilitate alcohol consumption for youths below 21 leave much to be desired.

“Seeing children consuming alcohol is very sad. The fine and penalties are not even severe enough to discourage people from taking pride in such an activity,” Gavin T. said.

Cultivating moral decadence

Since the  videos began circulating  on social media, parents have not stopped condemning such unjustifiable complacent behavior which they say breeds incest, rape, STIs, unwanted pregnancies, teenage pregnancies and many other social ills, in no distant future. 

“The moral decadence nowadays is alarming. Children tread in corridors which years back we as children never knew existed. Tomorrow such children will be drunkards and others engaged in prostitution, and the ills of it. Who will we blame?”Mrs. Foghang Desireé questioned? 

“ These children are completely spoilt. Some of them can drink better than adults. Where is the world heading to ? It’s terrible,” Mme Nicole Simo lamented.

Many are calling on the powers that be to take action against all those who provide their kids with beer, wine or liquor or facilitate alcohol consumption for this age group of children. 

Parents are unanimous that permitting children below 21 to take pleasure in drinking alcohol is a time bomb waiting to explode.

Kathy Neba Sina

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