Parents at a North Carolina middle school are skittish about Skittles being used as a visual aid during a career fair.
On Friday, students at Myrtle Grove Middle School in Wilmington were given prescription pill bottles filled with the candy, used as a visual aid about day-to-day work in a pharmacy, WECT reported.
The bottles were adorned with the logo of the New Hanover Regional Center, with "instructions" indicating the "patient" should take two 300 mg of the candy, the television station reported.
“To me, it’s a huge, huge safety thing,” Jason Efird, whose son attended the fair and sent him photos of the bottles, told WECT. “We are just basically saying: ‘Look here, pills are candy!’ when they are definitely not.”
Efird said he understood middle school students might know the difference between real pills and candy, but he added he was concerned that younger students might get the wrong impression.
“My biggest fear was my son comes home with two younger siblings that don’t know better,” Efird told WECT. “At 12, he knows better, but I’ve got a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, so if he comes home and is shaking a medicine bottle full of candy in it, walking around the house, they’re going to see that, and just because there’s no pill bottle at our house, if they go to their grandparents house or whatever and see it, then what’s keeping them one of my small kids from taking who knows what?”
Officials from New Hanover County Schools issued a statement saying the visual aid was "an educational opportunity."
"As a part of an educational opportunity to expose children to a wide range of career opportunities the students at Myrtle Grove Middle School participated in a Job Fair," the statement said. "One of the sessions was provided by the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Pharmacy Department. NHRMC professionals with the Pharmacy Department spoke to students on their job descriptions, education requirements, and responsibilities. This included teaching students about prescription measurements and recording and charting medication, all of which a pharmacist does in their profession.”
A spokesman for the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Pharmacy Department said the visual aids will be removed in future job fairs.
“Our team members regularly participate in career fairs to showcase the varied healthcare careers available," the statement said. "They occasionally bring medical props to help explain or demonstrate aspects of their jobs. We understand the concerns about these props and will not use them in this way again.”
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