Smoking and inhaling candy is what fourth- and fifth-grade students in at least one Upstate school have been doing, according to the principal.
Fountain Inn Elementary School's Principal Glenn Wile sent a letter home to parents on Tuesday, warning them that while the candy may not be real drugs, the inhaling behavior is inappropriate and won't be tolerated.
The candies of choice are Fun Dip and Smarties, according to the letter. Fun Dip is a flavored sugar and crushed Smarties turn into a similar powdery consistency. Staff at Fountain Inn Elementary said they've never seen kids try to inhale the candies like they have been recently, but they hope not to see it again.
It all started a week and a half ago. Wile said students were crushing up Smarties and sucking them in, "creating a puff of smoke."
Wile said there were 31 kids involved, half boys, half girls, and their parents were all called. He said this past Tuesday, a different child was caught doing a similar thing with Fun Dip.
"We felt like we needed to send something out to all of our parents, letting them know the concern at school, the inappropriateness of that type of thing at school, and more than that ... just to make our parents aware of the simulation of a behavior that we felt like they needed to be aware for their children," said Wile.
That awareness is important, said Adam Brickner, the director of the Phoenix Center, Greenville's drug rehabilitation center.
He was surprised at how creative kids are getting, saying they have figured out ways to,
"Emulate what they're seeing in the media and possibly at home."
Brickner thinks it's sad that kids as young as elementary school are doing this.
"The drug itself is not the concern here. The Smarties' dust is not the concern. The concern is the behavior of the children," said Brickner.
He said inhaling candy may have respiratory affects but isn't addictive. Brickner said the problem is that they're emulating risky adult behaviors. The positive side to this is that it is a good time for parents to start talking to their kids about drugs.
"Even though kids often act like they're not listening, and they're not paying attention, parents are the number one influence in the children's behavior," Brickner said. "They have to set appropriate boundaries. The kids will push up against them and they'll fight them, but parents have to set the boundaries and then stick to the boundaries."
Wile said Fun Dip, Smarties and any other candy that could be powdered, is now banned from the school. He said anyone seen inhaling candy again will be suspended.
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