Newsgroups: alt.folklore.urban
Subject: Re: Need Blue Star Tattoo info
Date: 1996/03/19

The Tennessean, March 14, 1996

Drugged tattoos a hoax, but fears don't fade


It's not the first time the alarm bell has sounded. Nor will it likely be the last.

In recent weeks, public and private schools have sent home frightening letters warning of drug-soaked fake tattoos and have been urging parents to spread the word.

"It's like a bad nightmare. This letter keeps resurfacing over a period of time," said Dr. Frank Bonfiglio, program director for the Middle Tennessee Poison Center of this urban folklore.

But the letters, often circulated by well-intentioned individuals, perpetuate a hoax.

Bonfiglio said no LSD-laced tattoos have been reported in Middle Tennessee. One letter notes the information came from a "J. O'Donnell Danbury Hospital Outpatient Chemical Dependency Treatment Center." No other details are provided.

There is a chemical dependency center at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut. Apparently the volume of inquiries has been so high that the answering machine states: "We did not issue this warning. . . . We have not had any indication of this occurring in our area."

Even if the tattoos exist, Bonfiglio said touching them as the letters imply presents no harm. "Kids would have to lick the tattoo to get it absorbed into the body," he said.

The warning flyers began resurfacing early last month, said Joe Edgens, director of operations for Metro Schools. His copy came from the Metro Emergency Management office, which learned about the tattoos from the Tennessee Emergency Management Association, which was sent the information from Washington, D.C.

Edgens said he forwarded the letter to school principals. Many, like Chadwell Elementary Principal Jim Bob James, copied the letter and sent it home with children.

In his letter to parents, James cautions parents that "Blue Star" tattoos laced with LSD are being sold to children. Other tattoos resembling postage stamps with Superman, Disney characters and Bart Simpson could also be drug laced and dangerous, he added.

The letter continues: "If your child gets any of the above, do not handle them. These are known to react quickly and some are laced with strychnine."

James said he had his students' best interest at heart when he sent out the alarming letter.

"If it is a hoax, it's still important to look out for the safety of our children. If anything, it could make parents more cautious of what their children have."

Edgens added: "If you err, err on the side of safety. I don't know that we've erred."

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