Widespread grief in French Polynesia after 3 children killed by drunk drivers
Widespread grief in French Polynesia after 3 children killed by drunk drivers.
There has been an outpouring of grief in French Polynesia after three children were killed by drunk drivers in separate incidents.
In Taravao, more than 500 people, all dressed in white, joined a march to draw attention to drink driving which is endangering the lives of children.
Sabrina Birk, who is a parent and former politician, says alcohol abuse is a serious problem in Tahiti.
(Above - Sabrina Birk)
She also told Daniela Maoate-Cox that teachers are expected to look after too many children.
SABRINA BIRK: In a matter of 48 hours we had two young girls that were killed as they got off the bus. They were 11 years old. And when they got off the bus, they didn't even go 10 metres before they were killed. One, she got off the bus and was hit by a drunk and speeding driver who had already been arrested for this kind of driving and the other girl got hit by a driver that had no licence.
DANIELA MAOATE-COX: How much is this impacting the community?
SB: All parents that have children from zero to 20 are touched, plus the grandparents. So it was an issue that really touched the community.
DMC: So there's a serious lack of resources in police and in teachers that are able to help monitor the children.
SB: Yes, because right after these two accidents, in that same school there was a four year old child that, when she went home, she had been strangled in class by another child that had strangled her with a rope. And the teacher had seen nothing, because there's one teacher in a class of 30 children.
DMC: So the issue here is not just the safety of children with regards to drink drivers, but the safety of children in general.
SB: Yes, because these are things that show that our education system is lacking means.
DMC: So what are the best ways to fix this issue?
SB: That they ban the sale of refrigerated beer in stores right now, and there should be more control on all this alcohol. Because there are a lot of people who sell alcohol illegally and this should be more controlled. There's the fact that the police should be more out there on the road controlling and we need means in matters of education to have not so many young children in classes of over 30 with 1 teacher.
Sabrina Birk says she has seen more police on the roads since the march and she hopes the government will do more to address the issue. However, she says she is appalled that one of the drivers involved is still free.
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