First grade girls planned to use silica gel packs to poison another student’s lunch
A trio of Alaskan first grade girls allegedly tried poisoning a classmate’s lunch with the intention of killing her. The plot was discovered before any damage was done, but the fact that they even tried is both sad and terrifying. These kids very likely had no idea what they were doing, but what if they’d been successful in their plan? It’s enough to make any parent shudder.
KTVA News reports that the Winterberry Charter School students were found out when a fellow classmate overheard their plans to put silica gel packs in another child’s lunch to poison her. That student thankfully alerted a teacher to what they’d heard before the little girls were able to put it into action.
Anchorage School District spokeswoman Jennifer Castro explained in a statement that thankfully, no one was actually hurt as a result of the incident. “The students had taken some plastic packets that are inside of a sealed food bag, meant for preservation of the food and say “do not consume” on the packaging, and brought them to school with the intent of putting them in another student’s lunch. The students had thought the packets contained poison. The plot was not actually carried out.”
Of the outcome, Castro says, “The School Resource Officer spoke with all of the first grade students that were involved and ultimately no criminal charges were made. It was left up to the school to decide further disciplinary action for the students involved.” Parents were notified the day it happened via a note sent home. It was not made clear how the children were disciplined.
This is obviously a very upsetting and perplexing situation. How did a couple of 6-year-olds come up with this idea and actually do something to the effect of carrying it out? And more importantly, why did they think up a scenario with the intent of hurting one of their peers? Of course, children that age likely have no concept of the finality of death. As ASD spokeswoman Heidi Embley states, “Given such a young age, it’s not clear if they knew what they were doing, if it was just a threat or something more serious.”
As disturbing as this is, these girls probably thought they were just playing a prank or a game and never considered what they would do if their classmate did die. Kids play video games where they “die” over and over only to come back with more lives. They watch superhero shows on TV where characters are able to jump off buildings and survive. Slightly older kids can make the distinction between fantasy and reality, but some 6-year-olds might be on the cusp of being able to do that.
Psychologist Stephanie Sloane led a University of Illinois study on whether toddlers understand right from wrong. Of the outcome, she says, “We found that 19 and 21-month-old infants have a general expectation of fairness, and they can apply it appropriately to different situations.”
In other words, yes. Very young kids might know right from wrong at a very young age. However, that doesn’t mean they have the impulse control and the ability to foresee long-term consequences until much later in life. The children who concocted this plot probably aren’t old enough to digest the thought of a person actually dying because of their actions.
As far as a takeaway from this sad story, Castro says, “It is important for parents to talk with their children about speaking up when they learn of something that could potentially harm others. We are thankful for the student that said something to a trusted authority when they learned of the potentially harmful situation to another student.”
It’s certainly important for our kids to know when to tell an adult about something they’ve heard. The silica gel packs these kids planned to use were not actually poisonous, but what if they’d chosen something else more toxic? The student that spoke up could’ve very well saved someone’s life.