Twelve-year-old Phillip Rodrigues says he was “very surprised” when he got to school Thursday morning to hear classmates talking about the 13-year-old boy charged with dealing small blue pills that he said contained prescription drugs and cocaine.
“You’re supposed to look up to older students,” said Rodrigues, a student at Raynham Middle School.
Classmates, parents and police were all surprised to learn the student, whose name is not being released, is accused of wrapping bunches of naproxen, a common painkiller, in tinfoil and telling classmates he had cocaine and prescription drugs for sale.
The boy did not sell any of the bundles but gave one of them to another student, who ingested the pills and received medical treatment.
Students informed administrators, who called police to the scene. A poison-control team determined the pills’ contents. Naproxen is commonly used in the treatment of arthritis and is sold in both prescription and non-prescription form. Over-the-counter naproxen is sold under brand names such as Aleve.
“People say it’s not a big deal because it’s just Aleve, but these kids had no idea what those pills were,” Raynham Police Chief Louis J. Pacheco said. “They could have been anything; they could have been heart or blood-pressure medicine.”
Pacheco said he doesn’t find it surprising that middle-school students were swapping pills. The students have ample access to them at home, he said, and even seem to know that drugs such as Ritalin, used in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a “valuable pill to trade.”
Pacheco says he is, however, surprised by the the “mimicking” of illegal drug sales.
“I’m concerned that they’re not only copying illegal drug trades, but apparently there’s an audience for it,” he said.
Parents were alerted by a reverse emergency-call system Wednesday and both the school principal and Pacheco fielded a handful of calls from concerned parents on Thursday.
Pacheco advised telling children that no drug — not even a prescription drug — is OK to take unless directed to do so by a parent.
“We’ve seen LSD found on aspirin. You don’t know what you’re getting,” he said.
“It’s this pill culture, we’re sending mixed messages to kids. They’re influenced by the Internet, television, movies. They need real-life human guidance,” he said.
The student is charged with felony possession and distribution of a counterfeit substance.
Police dogs searched the school after dismissal and found no other pills, Pacheco said.
“This was an out-of-the-ordinary dangerous situation, and students reacted appropriately,” Raynham Middle School Principal David Thomson said.
He said the school on Thursday was conducting business as normal, but was “probably a little more aware and tuned in today, but we’re tuned in every day.”
By MARIBETH CONWAY
GateHouse News Service
Posted Dec 17, 2010 @ 12:04 AM
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