Paramedics responded to a Queens junior high school Tuesday morning after a canister of pepper spray went off in the cafeteria.
Students at Virgil Grissom Junior High School in South Ozone Park said a sixth-grade girl unleashed the pepper spray during lunchtime on a dare.
"Her mom gave it to her because she walks home by herself and she didn't want nothing bad to happen to her," sixth-grader Justin Allen told NBC 4 New York.
More than 30 students and a teacher were exposed to the pepper spray, according to FDNY EMS Deputy Chief Debra Cali.
"It spread to my class' table and then everybody started coughing," sixth-grader Joshua Taylor said.
A dozen students were treated at the school and released to their parents. One was taken to a local hospital as a precaution, Cali said.
"There was a little bit of coughing and one or two had eye irritation, but other than that it was very minor," Cali said.
Pepper spray is not allowed inside city schools, but City Councilman Ruben Wills said he was in favor of children having ways to protect themselves.
"If that parent or that child is going to be home by herself or walking home by herself then I would give my child something that would reassure me of her safety also," Willis said.