According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day over 300 children in the United States 0 to 19 are treated in an emergency department, and two children die as a result of being poisoned.
Conscientious parents know to keep medicines and toxic substances out of reach of children, but surely in this age of Baby Einstein and computer-savvy toddlers, school age students would be able to distinguish among candy and medicines or other toxic household substances.
Nazareth Academy Grade School student Ms. Katherine Schramm decided to put today’s pre-kindergarteners through 2nd graders to the test for her Science Fair project. 8th grader Katherine showed the students a series of pictures on a Smart Board as well as actual samples of candy, laundry pods and medicines (antacids and throat drops). The students were asked the question, “Is it candy?” The results for each class were recorded and averaged based on the number of samples the students viewed. Katherine’s hypothesis was that by first grade, children would know the difference, easily distinguishing among the products as safe or unsafe to eat.
However, a full 76% of pre-kindergarteners believed laundry pods were candy, followed by 64% of kindergarteners and 44% of 1st graders. 27% of second-graders still perceived laundry pods as being safe to consume.
Antacids and sore throat drops were thought to be candy by 88% of pre-kindergarteners, 83% of kindergartners and 58% of 1st graders. By second grade 39% still perceived these over-the-counter medicines as candy.
Katherine was surprised how many children might make a poor judgment even at the 2nd grade level. She notes that drug companies use childproof containers for prescription and many over-the-counter medications, but many over-the-counter medications still appear tempting and easily accessible. (Biology Examiner is thinking of her own Gummy Bear vitamins!)
Katherine acknowledges in her project abstract that laundry pod manufacturers are responding to the growing number of poisoning cases. She believes that “childproof containers and better awareness on the part of parents is needed to keep children safe from these substances.”
And Katherine has the data to prove it.
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