CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It seems young people and even more specifically, teens, are finding alternative ways to consume alcohol in school.
Sometimes it happens in front of the teacher without them even knowing.
Ever heard of ‘vodka gummies’?
They’ve been used by party-goers over the years but it seems they are making their way into our kids’ classrooms.
Debra Hodges says her child is a student in Mecklenburg County in North Carolina.
Hodges says it’s a daily battle to keep kids safe and away from temptation.
“I think everybody should make their children aware of the consequences of drinking alcohol and how important education is at school,” Hodges explained.
Police say teens are soaking gummy bears or gummy worms in vodka and then they consume them in the classroom.
The teachers often times don’t pick up on them being anything more than candy because the vodka has a sweet smell.
“The thing about the vodka with the gummy bears, vodka has a sweet smell to it so if a kid has gummy bears you're going to expect them to have a sweet smell on their breath. It’s an easy way to mask it,” says Matthews Police Department spokesman, Tim Aycock.
Justin Sharpe works with young people who have addiction problem at Anuvia.
He stresses reaching teens early is the best way to prevent long range addiction problems.
“It kind of comes full circle year after year. It doesn't surprise us that kids are trying to do whatever they can to obtain certain substances like alcohol and soaking it with gummy bears,” explained Sharpe.
Experts say there are several ways parents can safeguard their vodka at home like using locking mechanisms. There are devices that are sold similar to a padlock that only the parent knows the code and can essentially lock the top of the bottle so no one can access it without the code.
There was a case in Concord, NC where police there confiscated what appeared to be gummy bears tainted with alcohol. However, police say in most cases, they just throw the candy away and do not taste to test them to confirm.
Meanwhile, parents like Hodges say the best way to curb what could be a bigger problem than you think is, know your kids, talk to them early and often and teach them life lessons.
“So they need to be more focused on getting an education rather than drinking.”