DCSIMG

Legal high: 3 pupils in hospital

St Marys Catholic College

St Marys Catholic College

An investigation was underway today after three teenagers were taken to hospital after smoking a legal high at their Blackpool high school.

The Year 10 and Year 11 pupils at St Mary’s Catholic College smoked the substance ‘Pandora’s Box’ on the school grounds and fell ill yesterday morning.

The pupils were taken by ambulance to Blackpool Victoria Hospital and were kept in for observation, although at least one was later discharged.

A number of other pupils were treated by paramedics in school but did not need to go to hospital.

The Gazette understands Pandora’s Box, which is sold in a number of shops in Blackpool, was taken into school by a pupil.

The youngster is not one of the three hospitalised.

Today, St Mary’s headteacher Stephen Tierney said the school was investigating the matter.

It is thought the use of the drug was advertised by a pupil on social networking site Facebook the previous night, inviting classmates to join in.

One pupil has already been disciplined with others facing possible further action.

In a letter to parents, Mr Tierney said: “Three Key Stage 4 students took a legal substance which caused them to become very ill and as a precaution we sent them immediately to hospital.

“Our first thoughts and actions were to care for the students involved and naturally we informed their parents.

“I am extremely grateful to the staff and students who responded immediately to ensure the safety and well-being of all.

“The substance was brought onto the college site by one student.

“The preliminary investigation has shown that it was sourced from a Facebook page and mobile number.

“The purchase of it was organised from home, the night before, via social media. The use of social media in this incident left a clear information trail which we now have.

“Please would you take a moment to speak to your child about the importance of keeping themselves safe, including not taking medicines, pills or legal substances which have not been prescribed for them.

“While the substance taken by the students was legal, the college considers the matter unacceptable and will now look at whether disciplinary action should arise out of this issue.”

A teenage student, who asked not to be named, said: “One of the girls Facebooked people and told them they were going to get high.

“The girl brought the legal high in and they smoked it. I think they thought it would be good.

“Teachers got them and they went to hospital straight away, then they checked our blood pressure.”

Others said up to five or six pupils were seen taking the substance.

Parents picking up their children yesterday outside the school yesterday told of their horror after being told what had happened.

Stacey Gaskell, 31, of Clevedon Road, said: “I am totally shocked, especially at this school because it is quite strict when it comes to discipline.

“I’ve never heard of Pandora’s Box but I would expect the school to have a word with the other kids.

“You just want to try and protect your kids and I will certainly be having a word with my daughter about it.”

One grandparent, who did not wish to be named, said: “I’m just surprised - I did not think this kind of thing went on at the school.”

Steve Pope, a drug and alcohol counsellor in Blackpool, said he has seen 25 people in 2014 suffering the effects of Pandora’s Box, which he said is also sold under the name of Clockwork Orange or Salvia.

He added: “We have more problems with legal highs than street drugs. We’ve seen 25 per cent more children using legal highs than street drugs.

“Kids are using it as a substitute for cannabis. It’s very, very dangerous, it can cause heart attack, seizure or collapse.

“They think because it’s legal it’s safe.

“Every drug has potentially harmful consequences and young people are just not aware because they see the label of legal and they’re facing peer pressure.

“We can’t stop it because there’ll always be drugs so what we need to do is educate children.”

Two calls were made to the emergency services yesterday morning, one at 10.50am and another at 11.01am which saw three ambulances attend the school.

A spokesman for North West Ambulance said: “The first ambulance took a patient to hospital. The female patient had taken a substance and was not completely alert.”

The second call, made to non-emergency number 111, reported three children to have taken a substance. A second ambulance took patients to hospital.

In a letter to parents, Mr Tierney said: “Three Key Stage 4 students took a legal substance which caused them to become very ill and as a precaution we sent them immediately to hospital.

“Our first thoughts and actions were to care for the students involved and naturally we informed their parents.

“I am extremely grateful to the staff and students who responded immediately to ensure the safety and well-being of all. The substance was brought onto the college site by one student.

“The purchase of it was organised from home, the night before, via social media. The use of social media in this incident left a clear information trail which we now have.”

Mr Tierney added: “Please would you take a moment to speak to your child about the importance of keeping themselves safe, including not taking medicines, pills or legal substances which have not been prescribed for them.

“While the substance taken by the students was legal, the college considers the matter unacceptable and will now look at whether disciplinary action should arise out of this issue.”

A teenage student, who asked not to be named, said: “One of the girls Facebooked people and told them they were going to get high.

“I think they thought it would be good. Teachers got them and they went to hospital straight away.”

Others said up to five or six pupils were seen taking the substance.

Meanwhile, Stacey Gaskell, 31, of Clevedon Road, who has a child at the school, said: “I’m totally shocked, especially at this school because it is strict when it comes to discipline.

“You just want to try and protect your kids and I will certainly be having a word with my daughter about it.”

One grandparent, who did not wish to be named, said: “I’m just surprised – I did not think this kind of thing went on at the school.”

Pandora’s Box is a synthetic cannabinoid. It is usually sold in herbal smoking mixtures and is made to mimic the effects of cannabis.

It is reported it can cause illness and paranoia.

UK Drug Watch reports there having been “numerous” hospital admissions involving these cannabinoids.

Steve Pope, a drug and alcohol counsellor in Blackpool, said he has seen 25 people in 2014 suffering the effects of Pandora’s Box, which he said is also sold under the name of Clockwork Orange or Salvia.

He added: “We have more problems with legal highs than street drugs. We’ve seen 25 per cent more children using legal highs than street drugs. Kids are using it as a substitute for cannabis. It’s very, very dangerous, it can cause heart attack, seizure or collapse.

“They think because it’s legal it’s safe. Every drug has potentially harmful consequences and young people are just not aware because they see the label of legal and they’re facing peer pressure.”

 

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