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Preschooler hands out bags of heroin thinking it's candy

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

4-year-old girl brings 249 bags of heroin to day care, hands it out to kids

According to Delaware State Police, a 4-year-old girl accidentally brought 249 bags of heroin to day care. Thinking the bags contained candy, the little girl began handing it out to her friends.

Staff members at Hickory Tree Child Care Center soon noticed kids holding the small bags of white powder. They collected the bags and immediately called the police. Fortunately none of the kids opened the bags of "candy." Several children were taken to area hospitals to be checked out, but none had been exposed to the potent narcotic.

How did a little kid end up with enough heroin for a felony possession charge? According to the Selbyville Police Department, the girl was mistakenly given the wrong backpack after a dog destroyed her regular school backpack. The incident is still under investigation. The girl's mother, 30-year-old Ashley R. Tull, has been charged with child endangerment and maintaining a drug property. She's out on bail and has been ordered to have no contact with her three children. It seems likely that there were other adults in the home involved in drug trade.

It's horrific when any child is exposed to the drug trade by way of parents or other trusted adults. Those of us who don't deal in narcotics expect our children to be able to attend school and day care without being handed potentially lethal doses of heroin. But this incident is a reminder that exposing a family to crime has a dangerous ripple effect. Fortunately the day care staff members acted appropriately and immediately contacted the authorities.

In the '80s, the D.A.R.E. program had many kids convinced that strangers and classmates were about to hand out all sorts of illegal substances in the shape of candy or stickers. While the efficacy of drug programs is highly debated, there's something to be said for reminding kids to not open or ingest anything given to them by strangers — or other kids. I have one son with a life-threatening allergy who won't eat anything without permission, but my younger kid would eat dirt if someone told him it was candy.

Use this scary incident as a reminder to talk to your kids about never opening and eating candy or other treats without checking with a trusted adult first.

More on drugs and kids

Why LGBT kids are turning to drugs
How to tell if your teen is using drugs
How to have a back-to-school drug talk with your child

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