What won’t kids do these days? First, they were eating Tide Pods, then they discovered juuling. The next scary trend? Possibly drinking vanilla extract.
Minors at a high school in Atlanta, Georgia have been caught using typical baking ingredients such as bourbon vanilla extract to get drunk, and they’re buying these bottle from grocery stores.
They’re adding this extract to their morning coffee so that they can catch a little buzz on their way to school. A small bottle of this extract is about 35 percent or 70 proof, which is a little less than your typical bottle of vodka.
In one case a student at Grady High School ended up in the emergency room after consuming the spiked drink. This isn’t the first time that minors have found ways to alter their state of mind with baking ingredients, there have also been reports of high schoolers smoking nutmeg and snorting cacao powder.
While we can’t necessarily stop kids from being kids and taking part in questionable activities, it’s important for parents to continue building a deeper connection with their kids.
Why are kids taking part in these crazy trends?
According to Eric Meyers, an expert on youth online behaviour, the answer is no different than for kids of generation’s past: kids have an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, this part of their brain is what moderates social behavior and decision making.
“Raising awareness is kind of a double-edged sword… It draws more people to the controversy as participants as much as it dissuades people from engaging in it”, says Eric.
Risk is a natural part of being a teen. While parents and school officials can take a role in talking to teens about these dangerous new trends. Instead of telling them “no,” which can often backfire with the “forbidden fruit effect”, we should instead talk about why they’re feeling like they need to do this.
We need to have open dialogues with adolescents in order to understand what their motives are. If they are given a chance to reflect and unpack what the possible outcomes are, we may be able to help them understand what the long-term consequences may be.