A senior police officer says that increasing the age of consent will make criminals of many of the nation’s juveniles, adding that what is needed is more parental guidance.
The age of consent in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is 15 years old and some people have been calling for it to be increased to 18, the age of majority.
On Thursday, acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Trevor “Buju” Bailey, who is in charge of the nation’s crime-fighting strategy, said on Hot 97 FM that many of the police investigations into “missing” teen girls leads to sexual offences charges.
Responding to a question, Bailey said that he would not like to see the age of consent increase, adding that if it is raised to 18, 17, or even 16, this would lead to the criminalisation of many of the nation’s youths.
“… because a lot of sex takes place before the age of 18,” Bailey said. “A lot of our young people are engaged in sexual activity.
“… if we are seeing 200 reports yearly at 15, if we carry it to 18, we will be seeing close to 400 and a lot of our young men will be arrested. So, let us not run away from it, school children are engaging themselves in sexual activities pretty early.”
Bailey said he is still the officer in charge of the Sexual Offences Unit.
“These children are at their experimental stage in life. So, parental guidance — who they associate themselves — with is very important. So, we will have to say to our young — not only our girls — because we pay a lot of attention to our girls, we try to fence the girls, but we leave the boys on the loose. So mommy will not allow the daughter to be outside after 7:30 but the boy can come home at 10 o’clock. What is he doing on the street at 10?” Bailey said.
Bailey, who is a parent of a teenage daughter, urged parents “to have that conversation, don’t be afraid.
“Because, at primary school, when you and I were small, we couldn’t speak anything about sex… But nowadays at the primary school, sex is being taught, so they are exposed to it pretty early. Sometimes, if they don’t receive the right guidance, they’re going to engage in what they are being taught at school. So, we have to be careful,” Bailey said.