When a teacher at Westchester County’s Fox Lane High School noticed students behaving oddly in the back of class, she quickly suspected alcohol. But there was something even more unusual about this classroom episode.
Bedford Police Detective Joseph Communale said the teacher soon realized the kids were drunk on alcohol-laced gummy bears.
The discovery at Fox Lane High School unfolded about a year ago, and since then the growing popularity of so-called boozy bears has been evidenced by websites and YouTube videos teaching kids -- and even some adults -- how to infuse the candies with liquor.
Drug and alcohol counselors worry liquor-soaked gummy candy could make it more appealing for teenagers to take their first taste of alcohol.
Ellen Morehouse, executive director of the Student Assistance Services Corporation, a nonprofit that supplies counselors to Westchester high schools, said the coupling of underage drinking with candy could be especially dangerous because it removes one of the prime reasons young teens avoid alcohol: the taste.
“Masking alcohol makes it easier for the teen to ingest the alcohol because, first of all, most teens, if they’re drinking for the first time, don’t like the taste," Morehouse said. "The alcohol burns all the way down.”
Research published by the National Institutes of Health found teens who take their first drink of alcohol before turning 15 have a 40 percent higher chance of becoming alcoholics compared with teens who wait till they are 17 before consuming their first alcoholic beverage.
As for the students found with the boozy bears at Fox Lane High School, police said the incident was dealt with within the school.
They did not say whether there was a suspension.