Following in the tradition of Pokemon cards and Web Kinz, Silly Bandz are the latest trendy item among elementary school children.
However, unlike its predecessors, the comically shaped (and in some cases scented) rubber bands have proven to be not just a distraction, but also a safety hazard. Elementary schools in Rye have responded by implementing strict limitations on the bracelets.
Last week the Osborn School sent out a note to parents that read:
"I am requesting that students wear no more than 2 animal rubber band bracelets on each wrist while at school. Students are wearing large numbers of bracelets, and they can become tangled together into a tight band. We have had several students who compromised the circulation in their hands, causing swelling, discoloration and pain. In addition to being a safety issue, they are becoming a nuisance and a distraction to the learning environment."
The Milton School has made a similar decision. A representative from the principal's office told Rye Patch, "The children have been told not to wear them and not to wear 15 of them at a time. We allow two on each wrist, and probably more than two they would be asked to take them off and put them in their backpack. There is no trading of the bracelets allowed during the school day."
The Midland School did not return calls for comment.
Maureen Gomez, president of the Osborn School Parent Teacher Organization, said the Osborn School made a "prudent decision" regarding the limitations because it will ensure the children's safety.
She said that Silly Bandz, which cost $4.95 for a pack of 24, and other toys from home shouldn't be in the classroom at all.
"Often children who do not have access to those same toys may feel bad and jealousy issues might ensue," Gomez said. "With more and more being asked of teachers regarding curriculum, it seems like a good idea to limit the distractions and focus on the lessons and material."
Even though children love these bracelets, many of them do recognize the safety hazards. Gomez said her children have come home to tell her about students who have lost circulation in their hands from the bracelets.
Catherine Eagan, a 12-year-old student at Resurrection School, said that she has lost circulation in her hand from wearing too many bracelets.
"All of a sudden I couldn't feel my fingers," Eagan said. "Some of the bracelets are in mini size for smaller kids but that isn't always clear on the package."
Eagan also agreed that the bracelets are a distraction in the classroom.
"Kids are always trading them and they lay them out all over the desk," she said.
Harold Nielsen, the principal of Resurrection School, told Rye Patch that the school hasn't placed a ban on Silly Bandz yet, but is monitoring the situation to ensure students' safety.
A spokesperson for Silly Bandz told Patch that there are warnings on the backs of the packages. However, these warnings refer to choking hazards and age limitations for children under age three.
Rye schools are not alone in their Silly Bandz restrictions. Schools all over the country have begun to but limits on this craze, with some banning the bracelets entirely.