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December 14, 2006

Other Social Issues

Question from Norristown, Pennsylvania, USA:

My son has come up against some social issues recently which have me alarmed. He is 15 years old and has had type 1 diabetes since age 11. He is using multiple injections as he has tried the pump and did not like being attached to something. His friends have a fascination with his diabetes care and have asked him to inject them to see what it feels like. I have discussed with him the dangers of insulin in non-diabetics and would like some information for him to read (he is a very visual learner). He is a very intelligent boy and I believe he understands the seriousness of the issue, but peer pressure is at play. If you have anything with this subject, please pass it along.


Your son (and possibly you) would be held criminally and civilly liable for any injury or death that might result from your son using a syringe to pierce the skin of another person. This liability remains even if he has the permission of the other person to experiment on “how it would feel to be injected.” You must take affirmative action to prevent this behavior, including contacting the parents of the other children to alert them to this dangerous situation as well as taking away syringes from the child if he has expressed the desire to use them on others.

Additional comments from Dr. Larry Deeb:

I actually believe it is a felony in most states. You might actually need the tough love of having the local sheriff sit with him and let him know a parent could get him into a lot of trouble. Indeed, having taken care of children who went to jail, I can tell you that life with diabetes is just awful in the penal system. This sounds tough, but, as a parent, I likely would file charges if my child came home and said someone had given him an injection.

We have tried so hard to get our children with diabetes all their “rights” at school. We have worked diligently to let them test and give insulin. An incident such as I can see happening would undo lots of progress for thousands of children. Stop it!

Additional comments from Debbie Butler, MSW, LICSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker:

First of all, it sounds like your son has some caring friends, but, as you said, it would be dangerous to give insulin to someone without diabetes, so I would never suggest this. I wonder if you could just sit down with your son’s friends and answer some of their diabetes questions. However, if your son’s friends still seem interested in trying an injection, I know some parents (who do not have diabetes) have given themselves injections filled saline solution to see what it feels like to have a shot, BUT I would check with your son’s friend’s parents before you would allow his friends to have a saline injection. Also, if this were to happen, you would need to make sure that syringes were not reused, that their injection sites were clean, and that the needles were disposed of properly, like you do with your son for insulin injections.