"Alarming" Number of Needles on Ground, Too Close to Schools - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

"Alarming" Number of Needles on Ground, Too Close to Schools

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    It's a problem one police officer calls "alarming", syringes near and in our schools. Last week we introduced you to Doreen Draughn and her granddaughter NeiyShawn, a first-grader who says she was stabbed with a hypodermic needle in a Madison Elementary School classroom. District representatives say another student found the needle on the walk to school, and told them he only pretended to poke three kids. But the incident report filled out that day says it is possible the first grader was stuck, and that it's unknown if the needle was clean or dirty.

    All those unknowns are raising  a lot of concerns with parents. Many are worried, not only about how this was handled, but about it happening again. Administrators and police say this was an isolated incident at Madison. But after we ran the story, we heard from another parent, whose son was stabbed the week before with a hypodermic needle near Buchanan Elementary. Police say it happened off school grounds. They tell us too often, kids see needles on their routes to school and can pick them  up and bring them to class. And that brings up another set of problems. Problems parents tell us they had no idea even existed.
    
    Evelyn Brown just learned about the incident at Madison. She has three children attending that school now. "To be honest, my head just went so many different places," she says. Parents picking up their kids say it's hard to believe  a student had a syringe in school. Grandmother Kimberly Scott says, "I think that's terrible because you don't know. Is it from diabetes? Is it from drugs? That is kind of scary really."  Some say even scarier, is the fact that they weren't informed right away. The incident report is dated April 8th, but the principal didn't send a letter to parents until the 25th, the day after our story aired. "Madison has always been good about communicating with parents, so for them not to let us know that," Brown says. "This is a serious matter to me."

    The District's Police Liaison Officer says administrators also take this seriously. And so does he. Sgt. Andy Neyrinck says, "I can totally understand the concern. And I would be alarmed. And that as a parent i'd want to be notified that a,  this happened to your child, they may have possibly been poked by a needle. Because I'd want to take all those precautions also. Because you just don't know." And he says, there were a lot of unknowns here. This syringe in school was something new for everyone involved. "Definitely we have to look at it to put some kind of protocol on place so that in the future, if this happens, that we can handle it a little bit better than we did this time," Neyrinck says.

    But what that protocol may be, remains to be seen. District reps say there is no biohazard policy in place right now. And there is no easy way to find a needle before it gets to a classroom. "There's a fine line," Neyrinck tells us. He says a metal detector wouldn't pick up a hypodermic, and he wouldn't want to go through every child's backpack. "I don't think any of us want to live in a society where you're going to be searched like that every day."  As for testing what was in that needle, that doesn't happen unless there's been a crime. And the Sgt. says that's not what this was. At the same time, policy could change. "We need to put something into place so that if something like this happens again, is there somewhere that we could take this to have it tested to make sure what's in it, is it a hazard?"

    Because he says it could happen again. While we didn't find any needles near schools, Sgt. Neyrinck tells us they are there. "It's alarming. I mean you find discarded needles all the time. As officers we're out there working, you know, we'll find them laying in different places." He says kids will too. The best thing parents can do is talk to them. "If you find something like that, it's just as dangerous as a gun. You don't know. Whatever's in there could kill you or make you very sick." Why he says teaching kids not to pick up needles, and to notify an adult if they find any, is just as important as the lessons they learn in class.

    Police say if you do find a needle, you don't want to pick it up yourself unless you're wearing gloves. Needles can be taken to police or fire departments, or local hospitals, which all have special sharps containers to ensure no one else gets stabbed.
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