Pepper spray mishap sparks concern about safety


Tori Dierikx

Many students carry pepper spray on their keychains.

Tori Dierikx, Reporter

Students in English teacher Katie Choate’s Introduction to Newspaper had a first hand experience with pepper spray on Sept. 6.

“It didn’t take long for us all to start coughing,”  junior Nakia Allen said.

Choate said the incident happened as a joke, but within a span of thirty seconds, it had affected 31 students and a pregnant teacher.

Students were evacuated from the class after more coughing ensued, and were sent to the nurse’s office immediately. All 31 students’ parents had to be informed of the situation.

“You feel it in your throat,” junior Gracie Quinn said.

Pepper spray has a long reputation of being banned in schools due to its dangerous after-effects, as the students in Choate’s class experienced.

The Davenport School District’s previous board policy on safety specifically mentions mace and pepper spray as “weapons,” therefore making them prohibited. As for the updated policy that came out this year, pepper spray is not specifically mentioned under weapons, but is still thought to be a “dangerous object” by administration, which therefore means it is banned.

Although pepper spray is banned at West, you may find many students – especially females – with pepper spray on their keychains.

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“I keep [pepper spray] on my keychain for safety reasons, like if I were to get attacked,”  senior Sarah Kakert said.

This is a fear for many young females. Eighty-two percent of all victims of assault under 18 are female, justifying student’s concerns for their safety according to Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.

“Preventing yourself from getting put into situations that put safety in jeopardy [is important],” school safety officer Curtiss Carter said.

Physical security is incredibly important, but taking the dangers of social media into account is vital as well. Especially in a high school setting, social media can have as much of an affect on student security as the physical world.

Students are most likely familiar with the safety acronym A.L.I.C.E., which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate. Although this is typically used in ‘active shooter’ situations, it can be useful in many safety situations.

“It might be at the end, but [evacuate] is the most important part,” Carter said.

Final preventions include having strength in numbers, and being aware of your surroundings. Other options available to students such as self defense classes. Women’s self defense classes are offered on the second Friday of each month at Casa Guanajuato in Moline. QC Family Martial Arts in Bettendorf also offers similar classes.