Three teenage girls are fighting date rape drugs, using a straw as their weapon. Date rape is a significant problem, particularly with female college students, but a simple straw may help prevent crime. The girls came up with the concept during an entrepreneurship class they attended. They decided to enter their product in the 2017 Miami Herald’s Business Plan Challenge and won first place.

Victoria Roca, 18, Susana Cappello and Carolina Baigorri, both 17, are all students of Miami, Florida’s Gulliver Preparatory School. The team designed a “Smart Straws” that include two separate test strips that, when placed into a drink, will turn light blue if it detects some substances frequently used for sexual abuse. The Smart Straw can identify the most popular forms of drugs used for date rape, including Ketamine (Special K), roofies (Rohypnol), and gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB).

A 2016 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that date rapes are among the higher number of rape cases. 21% of female college students across nine schools experienced sexual assault since entering college, with most incidents involving the consumption of drugs and alcohol. Women ages 16 to 24 were found the most frequently targeted groups. “Being young women, I feel like this is a problem that we hear about a lot, especially when we came to high school,” Baigorri said.

Smart Straws are a great invention, but it shouldn’t replace the necessary precautions:

  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers.
  • Make sure to open sealed containers yourself or watch the bartender make your drinks.
  • Always keep your eyes on your drink, and if you go to the bathroom, bring it with you.
  • Stay away from communal drinks like drinking games, punch bowls, fountains and drink pools.
  • Don’t drink anything that smells, looks, or tastes unusual.
  • When you plan to get drunk, keep a good friend around who doesn’t drink and can keep you safe.
  • If you are starting to feel intoxicated or are having suspicious symptoms, tell a trusted friend.
  • Beware of anyone who insists that you drink something, say no, and walk away.

Cappello explained that the team would continue to brainstorm different ways of making the straw even better, including making them eco-friendly and producing various sizes to accommodate different types of drinks. “A glass of Coke may need a longer straw compared to a mojito,” Baigorri added.

The girls are working on patenting Smart Straws and speaking with large manufacturers to bring the product to the market. They plan to make it affordable and cheap enough to dispose of. The team is planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign ahead of the official release of the Smart Straws. They are determined to make their business idea a success and want to inspire others to follow their dreams. “We hope to inspire people who have a business idea to pursue it if one feels passionate it about it,” said Roca.

original story by Luana S teffen

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