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Elementary Schools Should Not Sell Knives to Children

February 29, 2012

Monday, from Slate: Why Elementary Schools Should Ban Energy Drinks.

My first reaction: Really?  There are elementary schools that are selling energy drinks to their students?  Where could this possibly be happening?  Red Bull City, Iowa, perhaps?  ‘Cause you would think, based on the title, and the art included with the piece (a close-up of a vending machine with energy drinks), that surely this must be the case, in order for the writer to feel the need to say something, nay, take a stance on the matter.  That’s aside from the question of whether anyone is really arguing that elementary schools should be selling energy drinks to kids (hint: no).

Then I actually read the article.

Last week, a friend told me that her son had gone to the school nurse in his elementary school because of dizziness, shakiness, palpitations, and nausea. Her first thought was that he’d come down with a stomach virus. It turned out that he’d sampled a new energy drink called MiO.

Many high schools and middle schools ban energy drinks (which are not the same as sports drinks or vitamin waters) because of the caffeine content. It’s less clear whether this is a widespread practice in elementary schools, but it should be. Young kids (and their parents, and their teachers) need to know caffeine’s potential health risks. We can’t count on the manufacturers, whose gimmicky ads designed to appeal to youngsters make me think of those ubiquitous Joe Camel ads back in the ’90s. Parents need to know the difference between sports drinks and energy drinks, and energy drink labels should clearly state the total caffeine content—including the amount in additives like guarana. Schools need to include information about caffeine-drenched energy drinks in their discussions of substances to avoid. Schoolkids and megadoses of caffeine are not a good combination, and, with products like the inhalable caffeine Aeroshot now hitting the market, the story is far from over.

What?  Really?  No mention of a story, much less a reference or a link, in which an actual elementary school has sold an actual child an energy drink?  “It’s less clear”?

This comes right on the heels of my “I need to feel a little bit more free to write posts without researching them like a dissertation” post from yesterday, but come on.  This is just silly.

Elementary schools should also not sell weapons-grade plutonium to children, in case you’re wondering.  We can’t count on the manufacturers to self-police.*

Kudos to all the commenters on the story on Slate who all said virtually the same thing I’m saying.



*Of course I recognize that somewhere, oh-so-tenuously connected, there’s a valid point to be made about marketing of unhealthy junk to kids in a captive setting, and marketing to kids in general.  This was just a very poor way of getting to that point. 

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