On the last day of 5th grade, Sydney Durkovich’s 11-year-old son Jack came home from Lake Elementary in Oceanside, California with Skittles candy, a small treat from his teacher to celebrate the beginning of summer.
But the packaging of the candy caused Sydney immediate concern
Instead of the normal bag that Skittles candy come in, these candies were instead packaged in a card, manufactured by Diamond Pharmacy, designed specifically to look like prescription drugs. The intended recipient was, simply, “State Correctional,” and the card even contained dosing instructions – chew and swallow 1 tablet orally daily.
Sydney questioned Jack about the candy packaged as pills. Jack explained to her that his teacher intended it as a challenge. This was how prisoners receive their vitamins, Jack told his mother, and if the students took the Skittles daily, the prisoners themselves would get more vitamins. His teacher received the pill-packaged Skittles from her husband, a police officer, Jack said.
Sydney’s first response, as a mother, was to explain to 11-year-old Jack that it is never okay to take anything from pill packages. It is a conversation the two have had before, since Sydney’s mother is on medication packaged in similar blister packs. But because a trusted adult had given Jack the Skittle “pills” as a “challenge,” Sydney felt it necessary to reiterate the lesson. The mother then took pictures of the candy, and fired off emails to the principal, teacher and other staff at her son’s school, asking them to please explain the point of giving children candy dressed up as drugs.
The principal of the school did reach out to Sydney with an apology, but had no explanation as to what the teacher was thinking when she passed out pill-packaged Skittles candy to impressionable 5th graders. These children are leaving elementary school for middle school, where peer pressure and potential exposure to actual drugs grows greater.
But underneath Sydney’s initial fury was a deep concern. She wanted other parents to be aware of the existence of this candy packaged as pills, worried that it may confuse some children. Furthermore, the local high school, she explained, is known as a “drug school.” And the drugs of choice are typically prescription opioids – whatever the teens can get out of their parent’s medicine cabinets. And so the idea that her son’s teacher would glorify that particular damaging culture by passing out pill packs of bright candy seemed even more foolish.