Boys Spike Teacher's Coffee, Send Her to Hospital

Filed under: In The News

travel mugAt our house, we love a good practical joke. But we also have a rule: It's not really a joke unless everyone is laughing. The idea, of course, is that a prank that hurts someone else isn't really funny ... it's just mean.

An Auburn, Washington middle school teacher wasn't laughing last week when two of her students pulled a "prank" on her. Two boys, ages 13 and 14, spiked her coffee with ipecac. After taking a drink, she quickly fell ill and was taken to the hospital. But not before she identified the two suspects, part of a group of kids who had been standing around her desk when she walked into the room.

The teacher was treated at the hospital and released. Ipecac is a syrup that induces vomiting. Once used as a poison control medication, it.can be harmful to people taking certain medications.

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The comments at a local paper, The News Tribune, are interesting, though. "Boys will be boys, at our school the kids used x-lax," says one commenter. "I'm sure the teacher will parlay this into three months of paid leave for 'emotional distress' and won't have to be back to work until the fall...As for the boys? Come on... BIG DEAL!" says another. A third blames it on the teacher's caffeine habit, "First of all, what business does a teacher have drinking coffee during classes?"

Local authorities are putting the blame right where it belongs, however. The boys -- who both boasted about and then admitted to their crime -- were immediately expelled from school and have been arrested on charges of suspicion of introducing a noxious substance with the intent to commit bodily harm. The charge is a felony.

We talk a lot about safety in schools, and how kids deserve a safe place to learn and grow. But teachers deserve to feel safe in their workplace, too. Practical jokes are one thing, and a little fun can be expected at the junior high level, but putting anything in another person's drink crosses the line, especially if lands that person in the hospital. The teacher wasn't permanently harmed, but I've no doubt she was terrified. It'll be a long time before work feels safe for her again.

Pranks have come a long way since tacks on a teacher's chair. What do you think about these boys' arrests?
Throw the book at them before they really hurt someone.95 (38.6%)
Suspension, expulsion maybe. But criminal charges? I'm not so sure.138 (56.1%)
I don't know what the big deal is, it was just a prank.13 (5.3%)

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.