Editorial: Dangerous attraction

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 8, 2011

As if piercings werenít enough of an issue for parents and kids to wrestle over, now fake piercings are causing trouble. In several instances across the country ó including in Rowan ó children have accidentally swallowed magnets intended to look like a tongue or nose ring and wound up in the hospital.
A Missouri case getting a lot of attention involved a 14-year-old. In Rowan the problem surfaced among fourth-graders at Woodleaf Elementary School ó proof again that kids will do whatever they hear or see teenagers do. It works like this: They put two of the powerful magnetic beads on their tongues, top and bottom, to resemble piercing jewelry. They trust the magnetism to hold the beads in place. But the magnets donít stay, and some have wound up in kidsí stomaches and intestines ó where they continue to try to stick together, even through tissue. The results could be fatal.
Magnetic toys have been around a long time, but puzzles comprised of hundreds of small magnets have become popular. One version was Rolling Stoneís 2009 Toy of the Year. Manufacturers put warnings in their literature, such as: ěThe NeoCube or any of the spheres should never be put in the mouth, ears, nose, or any other bodily orifice.î That alone is a strong clue that the puzzle should be kept away from children and other naive adventurers. Vigilance from parents and other adults may be the best defense, along with strong warnings to kids. Donít mess with these magnets. The damage could be quick and painful.