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Two Schools Ban Slap Bracelets

MARLENE AIGOctober 9, 1990

PELHAM, N.Y. (AP) _ The hippest fashion accessory for kids, the ″Slap Wrap″ bracelet, has been banned at two public elementary schools on the grounds that their sharp edges could cause injury.

When slapped against the wrist, the low-budget bracelet grabs on and wraps around to become an instant wristband. It’s a flat, 9-inch long steel spring resembling a ruler wrapped in eye-grabbing neon fabric.

Principal Joseph Longobardi said Tuesday he was prohibiting his pupils at Colonial and Siwanoy schools from wearing them during school hours because if the fabric wears away, a sharp edge can be exposed and lacerate hands and arms.

But Gene Murtha, president of Main Street Toy of Simsbury, Conn., which makes ″The Original Slap Wrap″ and sells it for $2.49, said his product hasn’t caused any injuries. He blamed cheap imitations made in Taiwan and illegally sold in the United States for reported injuries.

″The metal is inferior, low-grade caliber steel with poor quality fabric,″ he said. ″The sealing is also inferior. The steel can either break through or snap through and cause injury.″

Murtha said his bracelets are made of high-grade steel with rounded rather than sharp edges and a double-knit fabric that is tightly sealed.

He claimed the cheap products were pirated and legal action is difficult, but cease-and-desist letters against the illegal products have been issued nationwide and seizures of them by U.S. Customs have also begun.

Longobardi, who is principal of two of the four elementary schools in the Pelham school district, sent a letter to parents last week advising them of the possible dangers and asked them to keep the pop toy at home.

″I have four kids of my own,″ Longobardi said. ″I know how popular these things are. ... But the possibility of injury does exist because of that sharp cutting edge.″

Longobardi said he decided to ban the toy after hearing of injuries in the West Orchard Elementary School in nearby Chappaqua.

Officials there said a pupil who had removed the material covering required three stitches in her hand after she was cut with an exposed bracelet edge.

West Orchard’s principal, Dr. Frederick Wilhelm, ordered his teachers to confiscate any slap bracelets missing the fabric cover, but did not impose a broad ban.

Main Street Toy has shipped out nearly 1 million of its bracelets since the fad started this summer.

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