The Finance Committee debated and passed a motion brought by Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush in response to a You Tube video showing young girls and men simulating sex at a street dance in George Town.
During the debate, Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin revealed that one of the principle participants was 11 years old; another 15 years old and another one 16 or 17.
‘Certainly two are part of the school system – Caymanian schools – so don’t come with this nonsense that I’ve heard on the talk shows that the girls were Jamaican. They were Caymanian,’ he said.
Mr. Bush’s motion indicated that government had a role to play in the matter since it appropriates money to Batabano and Pirates Week and grants licences for street dances and clubs.
‘Be it resolved that Government take all reasonable steps to establish and enforce a policy whereby all young people under the age of 18 are restricted and protected from public displays and participation in lewd, indecent, unacceptable and dangerous behaviour, conduct or activities in bars, clubs and all other such public places and events.’
Mr. Bush called the filmed behaviour ‘downright disgusting’ and said he was bringing the motion not to point any fingers but to do something about ‘what I see as the continuing degradation of these islands’.
Most of the members of Legislative Assembly spoke on the motion.
Back bench MLA Osbourne Bodden said that he wasn’t against having measured fun, but that he also found what he saw on You Tube disgusting.
‘We can’t legislate morality and I don’t want anyone to think that’s what I’m proposing,’ he said.
He acknowledged that generations seem to progress with what is acceptable behaviour and that there are those who would say what happened in the 60s was not acceptable in the 50s, and what happened in the 70s was not acceptable in the 60′ and so forth.
‘I don’t buy that,’ he said, with respect to what took place at the street dance.
Mr. Bodden also noted that since the actions were posted on the Internet for the whole world to see, it could only damage Cayman as a tourist destination.
‘I would like not to think that this will continue in the Cayman Islands,’ he said. ‘You can rub up [while dancing]; you can whine up; you can do that without doing what we saw on You Tube.’
Opposition MLA Rolston Anglin said what he saw on You Tube was ‘by no means what any of us sees as normal or acceptable behaviour’.
Mr. Anglin called for the institution of a national identification system to help verify people’s ages that go to clubs, dances and other places where only adults are supposed to go. He also called on parents to take steps to lock cable boxes and protect their children’s computers to prevent them from viewing adult sites on the Internet.
‘There’s a lot worse [than what happened at the street dance] available on the Internet,’ he said.
Back bench MLA Moses Kirkconnell also commented about the incident ending up on the Internet.
‘What we saw on You Tube is something that went around the world, giving a belief in something we are not.
‘That is not our culture.’
Back bench MLA Lucille Seymour said the incident showed a change in Cayman’s value system that has been ongoing.
‘This is not new,’ she said. ‘But now that it is in public, we are shocked.’
Ms Seymour said she would not put the blame on the children.
‘Cow don’t make cat,’ she said. ‘It is human beings that make children.’
She pointed out that the government could not solve the problem.
‘Government does not sleep in people’s bedroom,’ she said. ‘Government does not sit on people’s couch with children.
‘We allow our children to go to dancehall [events].’
Ms Seymour said she did not find actions of the people involved the most offensive part of the incident.
‘The act was obnoxious, but what really bothered me is that adults stood around and watched.’
Back bench MLA Alfonso Wright said that what occurred at the event did not happen by accident.
‘It was premeditated,’ he said, pointing out that video equipment was prepared to record what happened.
Mr. Wright also warned that the government could only do so much to correct the problem.
‘We have to be careful not to give the false impression that [the government] is dealing with the issue when it’s only a Band-Aid on the problem.’
Cabinet Minister Arden McLean said he has always believed children will be children.
‘All of us have gone against the wishes of our parents at some time,’ he said. ‘I, too, stole out of windows at times.’
Mr. McLean said parents have a responsibility to know where their children are, but he noted that in past generations, parents had help from the wider community in keeping children out of trouble.
‘We have failed [the children] because of the almighty dollar,’ he said, noting that Cayman had evolved away from a village concept where everyone helped out.
Mr. McLean said that as far as government was concerned, laws were already in place to deal with the matter through the various licensing bodies.
‘No one seems to put the responsibility on licensed premises,’ he said. ‘It is time proprietors face summary courts.
‘The Liquor Licensing Law has been forgotten; no one prosecutes the proprietors.’
Mr. McLean said that whoever put on the dance where the You Tube event took place should be prosecuted for letting children in.
Mr. McLaughlin said that while he appreciated the spirit of Mr. Bush’s motion, he said anything the government might agree to do would not likely have any lasting effect.
‘We delude ourselves regularly, consistently in this country by thinking that by drafting more stringent legislation and rigorous policies… that we can regain the old Cayman and traditional values… and keep sin at bay.’
Mr. McLaughlin said the actions in the video showed a lack of self-respect and respect for others. He said he was particularly distraught by the fact that the males in the videos were adults and that other adults watched what was happening.
‘We have, over the course of my lifetime, essentially lost the value of the family unit,’ he said.
‘What are a 15-year-old girl and an 11-year-old girl doing on the streets of George Town… in the evening with no parental guidance or supervision? It blows my mind. Those are young children that no one essentially cares about; otherwise there would be someone there with them.’
Even though he sees the issue as one of enforcement, Mr. McLaughlin said the Ministry of Youth was taking the issue very seriously. He said a meeting had been held with ministry staff last week to discuss ways of taking a multi-organisational approach to addressing the issue.
Cabinet Minister Anthony Eden said what was happening in Cayman was happening elsewhere, particularly because of the influence of television. He told members they only had to look at some of the things that were happening in the United States with youth.
‘People are getting away from God,’ he said, noting that immorality was growing like a cancer in the United States.
Mr. Eden suggested reading the Bible, which he said he was now doing for the fourth time.
‘When you look at the Bible, you really see and understand what this wicked world is all about.’
Opposition MLA Julianna O’Connor-Connolly agreed with Mr. Eden’s views.
‘I believe that the deep-seeded reason for the problems is that somewhere along the line, the fear and reverence of Almighty God has been greatly reduced or completely lost,’ she said. ‘Without God, there are no boundaries.’
Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly said parents have to lead by example.
‘We can’t say ‘don’t smoke’ and then go and smoke,’ she said. ‘We can’t say ‘don’t drink’ and then go drink. We can’t say ‘don’t whine up’ and then go and whine up. These are mixed messages.
‘Our children are very capable. A lot of them are looking for attention; they are looking for love. They are not looking for mixed messages.’
In his response to the debate, Mr. Bush said he did not believe government was the be-all, end-all to problems, but he pointed out that government did grant licences for street dances.
‘Government must do something about that, and I think this is where government has to start.’
He said parents also had to do their part in keeping their young ones away from where they should not go.