The very latest development in the media's ongoing obsession with spurious trend stories about kids getting drunk in weird ways comes via the Los Angeles Times, and it involves some kids who got drunk on hand sanitizer. Per the Times' Anna Gorman:
Six teenagers have shown up in two San Fernando Valley emergency rooms in the last few months with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer, worrying public health officials who say the cases could signal a dangerous trend.
Some of the teenagers used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, making a potent drink that is similar to a shot of hard liquor.
Parents, hide your Purell! The Times reported the news Tuesday morning and already it's gotten wide pick-up in national media outlets. CBS News has even declared that this "may be a fast-growing dangerous trend." (To their great credit, the Times resisted the urge to make such a prediction, but they did go with calling it "a troubling trend." Also, lest you get any ideas, drinking hand sanitizer is a stunningly dumb idea, for a variety of reasons laid out by the Times.)
More sober writers, Jack Shafer the most entertaining among them, have noted before (as have we) that these kinds of stories (kids! alcohol!) take a new form every few months -- a new secret, often sensational and extremely painful-sounding way kids are drinking -- but rarely do these stories back up their panic with evidence of a widespread trend. Some of our favorite ways kids are (not) getting drunk include: vodka-soaked gummy bears, vodka-soaked tampons, and vodka ingested through the eyeball. (Hard to believe that "trend" didn't catch on among our youth!) In fact, none of these seems to have become the go-to method for teens looking for a buzz since they were first reported.