The Roncesvalles mom whose 5-year-old daughter was poked by a discarded syringe on her second day of school is encouraging parents to educate their children about the dangers of used needles.
Amy Slater’s daughter Lily was one of three children who found used syringes while playing in the schoolyard at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School on Fermanagh Ave. near Roncesvalles Ave. on Wednesday morning. The children were taken to hospital for medical treatment after they told a staff member they were poked by the needles. Police did a sweep of the area but found no other dangerous objects nearby.
Slater said the children were playing near the property line in an area where the bottom of the fence was slightly lifted, and that the children may have accessed the syringes through this gap.
Toronto police and a spokesperson for the Toronto Catholic District School Board both reported that the syringes were located adjacent to school property, not on it.
Slater says her daughter received a transfusion to protect her from a hepatitis B infection and must take antiretroviral medications, which cause flu-like symptoms and insomnia, for the next 28 days to prevent HIV.
“We won’t know definitively whether or not they’ve contracted any diseases for four to six months,” she said. “It’s a waiting game.”
Slater made her story public through a Facebook post detailing the incident and her daughter’s subsequent treatment. The post has gained more than 3,000 comments and 21,000 shares since Wednesday night.
“I don’t (make) any of my Facebook stuff public, but I wanted to share with my friends what happened so they could talk to their kids and they said, ‘You need to share this,’ ” Slater said. “I wanted to share the message: Talk to your kids.”
Despite the serious nature of the incident, Slater says she doesn’t blame the school.
“I’ve been there, trying to supervise many kids. Everything happens so fast,” she said. “I truly believe this was an accident.”
She also applauded the school’s response in the aftermath of the incident.
“They had an assembly right away and talked to all the children about safety,” she said. “The principal acted very professionally. She did every single thing I would have expected her to do in that situation.”
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As more used needles begin showing up in public places, Slater said, educating kids about the dangers associated with them is vital.
“We’re not always going to be there watching over them. There are not always going to be teachers watching over them,” she said. “I think talking to your kids and educating them is one of the things that we can do to try to prevent this from happening in the future.”