One hundred and fifty guidance counsellors from various primary and secondary schools in Region 1 (Kingston & St. Andrew) are being trained in underage gambling prevention.
The training is being conducted over three days between June 27 and July 1, using a lesson plan created by RISE Life Management Services in collaboration with the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC), started on Monday.
It is being held at the Ministry of Education and Youth’s Caenwood Centre in Kingston.
Speaking during Day 2 of the training workshop on Wednesday (June 29), Director, Licensing and Registration at BGLC, Maurice Thompson, said that parents, teachers and counsellors share the responsibility of protecting the nation’s children from engaging in gambling before they become adults.
“We must educate them about the risks and harms they face by participating in gambling too early, if at all. We must ensure that we can provide the support for them if they do fall victim to the harms that, no doubt, children will suffer when they participate in gambling,” said Mr. Thompson.
He further commended the Ministry of Education and Youth for being partners on the initiative and for recognising the importance of ensuring that the counsellors are equipped with the knowledge and tools to address the issue of underage gambling in the school environment.
Mr. Thompson pointed out that under the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act, minors are not permitted to participate in gambling activities, and anyone who is found guilty of allowing such action could be fined a maximum of $1 million.
Meanwhile, Programme Manager for Responsible Gaming Counselling and Support Services, RISE Life Management Services, Richard Henry, told JIS News that “it is not business as usual when it comes on to our youngsters and underage gambling”.
He noted that in an intensified gaming environment, where children are exposed to gambling through advertising and other elements, they need to have the necessary skills to interpret what is seen in the media.
“If they interpret it wrong, it could glamourise gambling, encourage them to want to do gambling and for some of them, thinking that this is way for them to survive when they get older as opposed to setting goals, focusing on education and having a good job.” said Mr. Henry.
For her part, Senior Education Officer, Guidance Counselling Unit, Region 1, Ministry of Education and Youth, Tamika McCreath, told JIS News that at the end of the training, the guidance counsellors will leave with a six-week Lesson Plan for Underage Gambling Prevention to be implemented in the various schools.
She commended the partnership in the staging of the training programme, noting that it will “build our guidance counsellors’ capacity in getting that message out to the younger set of students, so that the early onset of gambling is reduced”.
The underage gambling prevention education training is made possible through a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Ministry of Education and Youth and RISE Life Management Services.