Around 95 elementary and high school students and three adults have been injured or affected by 10 separate incidents involving pepper spray and aerosols in Chicago schools in the last five weeks. According to a report by NBC 5 Investigates, the incidents occurred across Chicago and the suburbs.
The report highlighted several incidents that took place over April and May of this year, including on 2 May, when sixteen students were hurt after two people allegedly sprayed an aerosol bottle and on 7 May, when police arrested a 17-year-old boy after 11 students were injured by the discharging of a chemical irritant spray.
The majority of incidents were related to the use of pepper spray. Officer Dan Humphreys of the River Forest Police Department trains officers on how to safely use pepper spray. He told NBC 5 that a direct blast of pepper spray can impact a person’s breathing, skin and eyes, adding that people who are not sprayed can still feel the effects of pepper spray if they are nearby.
Students are not allowed to have pepper spray in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) buildings. CPS spokesperson Emily Bolton said: “Student safety is the district’s highest priority and the district has provided support to schools experiencing pepper spray incidents by pairing enhanced security measures with restorative interventions to ensure students are engaged and understand the consequences of these actions.”