Parents, officials urge caution after students sickened by spicy gum
ORANGE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Several children at Dexter Park School in Orange were rushed to the hospital on Tuesday after chewing hot bubble gum, which is something circulating right now on social media.
“It’s something you see out of a horror movie. Honestly, it felt like these kids were under attack,” said Kathleen Woodard.
Woodard described a scary situation to Western Mass News. On Tuesday, she received a call from Dexter Park Elementary School to pick up her nine-year-old son, Michael, after he ate an unknown food. She found him at the school vomiting.
“I walked in and kids were crying. They were just lined up down the hall, in the front hall area. Their hands were red, their faces were beat red, and they were crying saying it hurt. Some of them were like a deep red,” Woodard added.
It was determined several students, including Michael, were having a reaction to an extremely hot bubble gum brought out to recess by a student. Measuring at 16 million Scoville units, it nearly equals eating pepper spray.
The Southborough Police Department took to Facebook to warn parents about the gum, known for being part of a viral Tiktok challenge where contenders try to blow a bubble, but Woodard told us you don’t have to chew the gum to feel the burn.
“Nobody knew what it they were dealing with. Nobody had heard of this…The doctor’ fingers started burning from examining him. My arms were itching and burning,” Woodard explained.
Michael wore gloves for the rest of the night until the burn wore off and he returned to school on Wednesday. His mom hopes the school administration addresses the situation.
“I really just hope it’s handled appropriately. It’s not something that, you know, you could just suspend her. It’s these children suffered,” Woodard noted.
She also hopes parents check their kids online search history.
“Parents need to be okay with monitoring what their children are seeing ‘cuz they may not know any child can make any decision…Nobody deserves this. They were kind of blindsided,” Woodard said.
Western Mass News reached out to the Orange Fire Department on Wednesday. Chief James Young said the school is handling the investigation. Dexter Park School referred us to the superintendent’s office for comment. The superintendent posted a statement on the matter on Tuesday that read, in part:
“Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken upon the completion of the investigation. I ask that you speak with your child about bringing in candy or accepting such items in school, which are not permitted as part of our wellness policy... "
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