2011-09-17 / Schools

Students reminded not to take things from strangers

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON – Just because it looks like candy, doesn’t mean it is, said Lakewood Schools Superintendent Jay Gault.

He said he recently received a report from a “school in the northwest part of Licking County” about the possibility of “Skittling,” which implies drug use, happening in that area and all districts should be aware.

“I was alerted to this and requested that the principals put out a reminder to all students and parents to remind students not to take things from strangers,” said Gault.

August 30, Lakewood Middle School Principal James Riley distributed a note to parents saying, “This morning we were notified by our superintendent, Jay Gault, that he had received word of possible ‘Look-a-like Skittles” being in the area. Although these items may look like candy, they are not candy at all. Continue to tell your children to never accept or eat anything they are not absolutely sure of.”

“There have been no reports of the ‘look a like skittles’ in this part of the county,” said Gault. “I also spoke with the sheriff’s department and they had no reports as of last week. It was just a good time for us to remind students and parents.”

“We’re not investigating anything that actually looks like Skittles,” said Lt. Paul Courtright of the Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force, referring to the brightly multi-colored candy. Instead, he said “Skittling” involves placing a bunch of random pills (anything from prescription drugs to designer drugs such as Ecstasy) in a bag and distributing them. In such cases, the pills would differentiate in color, hence the title “Skittling.” They wouldn’t necessarily be brightly colored, like Skittles candy, but they would be different shades of color.

Courtright said that Skittling is not an epidemic in Licking County, but there is the possibility of it happening, so he’s informing some superintendents to watch for it. “There’s not a rash of these things being discovered,” he said. The bottom line, said Courtright, is Skittling could happen and even very young students need to be aware of it and how to avoid it. “If you don’t know what it is,” he said, “don’t eat it.”

“We can use this as a teachable moment,” said Lakewood Schools psychologist Margaret Price, adding that parents can use situations such as this to their advantage and explain to their children that these dangers exist.

She said children as young as preschool can begin to understand the differences between “good drugs that mommy gives them,” such as aspirin, and harmful drugs. Price urges parents to ask their children to tell them if anyone offers them anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, particularly with Halloween coming.

She said the goal is communicate the dangers of drugs to children without alarming them. Price said children four or five years old may begin learning about drugs, particularly when mommy is giving drugs to them. “Start dialoguing with kids,” said Price; there are few downsides ever when parents communicate with their children, on any subject.

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