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DEA drives home dangers of vaping to elementary schools during Red Ribbon Week

Updated: November 08, 2019 10:13 PM

The Drug Enforcement Administration said during its annual Red Ribbon Week, agents spoke to more than 3,500 students in Minnesota and surrounding states about the dangers of drugs.

This year, the DEA included information about vaping in its presentations - explaining the dangers of vaping to students as young as elementary-school age.

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"We really feel like it's important to get out and talk to kids, especially young kids, who are being exposed to vaping now and teach them what we know about vaping and some of the dangers that we've seen," said Emily Murray, a spokesperson for the federal agency.

Historically, Red Ribbon Week is a time to talk about the dangers of drugs, Murray said. But with an increase in the number of youth using e-cigarettes and other vaping products, the DEA said it was important to include the topic in their messaging.

"We know that younger and younger kids are seeing different drugs that were never seen before at that age," Murray said.

In New Prague, kindergarten through fifth-grade students at Falcon Ridge Elementary school participated in Red Ribbon week activities.

The school put themes on each day to correspond to the lessons of Red Ribbon week. Halloween was 'Say 'Boo' To Drugs and Bullying."

Principal Dave Giesen said the meaning behind the message is what he wants kids to remember.

"We try to have fun with it," Giesen said. "We try to keep it positive and be proactive in getting that message out that being drug-and-bully-free is not only what we want, but what we expect out of our kids."

The school's social worker, Amy Hennen, said that when asked about the challenges of middle school and high school students, teachers of fifth-graders at Falcon Ridge reported that they heard vaping most often from students.

"They're seeing it and they're hearing about it," Hennen said.

"This week is about making good choices as it is about anything else," Giesen said of Red Ribbon Week. "We know kids will make mistakes but it's correcting those mistakes early on to make sure we're sending the right message."

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Kirsten Swanson

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