Childrearing

New Teen Craze: Smoking Smarties

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Every time kids start doing something stupid does it have to become national news? Thanks to the internet, apparently that’s the case:

“FOREST HILLS – A Forest Hills middle school principal is banning two types of candy because students are believed to be inhaling the sugary treat as they pretend to smoke it – possibly causing maggots to feed off the students’ noses.

Northern Hills Middle School Principal Nancy Susterka emailed parents on Friday, saying that sugar candies such as “Smarties” and “Pixy Stix” are now prohibited.

“In short, we have seen huge numbers of Smartie wrappers throughout the building and heard some rumblings about kids smoking it,” she wrote in a “Newsflash” email.”

Ok, I can usually get past the first sentence before I start guffawing that a news story is sensational nonsense. I mean — maggots feeding off of noses? Really? This is Michigan, not Equatorial Guinea. The Associated Press’ write up is briefer and saner, but why does everyone need to read this story? By making it national news, they’re giving smoking Smarties cache. And the exposure will undoubtedly lead to kids in other parts of the country trying this for themselves.

This all speaks to a larger issue. We have problem in this country of needing to examine and warn every parent about every possible threat to children no matter how ridiculous. And that in turn causes parents to be overly protective. Starting when they’re on tricycles we make kids wear helmets, we slather sunblock on them every time they even think about going outside and warn them that everyone who drives a van is probably a kidnapper.

Call me crazy, but I think in the end all this frantic concern about being aware of each new threat to your little buttercup only makes it so that they don’t listen to you when you try and give them the really important warnings. Sure, smoking Smarties is stupid — but I’m much more worried about warning my children against, you know, smoking cigarettes, heroin or cocaine.

Maybe this smoking Smarties fad is really a problem for one school in Michigan, but it shouldn’t have to be a concern for everybody. If kids are doing something stupid, it’s best to let their parents and immediate authority figures handle it and not turn it into national news, no matter how novel it seems.

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