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Thousands of young children are buying coloured wristbands every week. But parents have no idea of their true disturbing meaning...



By Sadie Nicholas

Last updated at 12:43 PM on 24th September 2009




They are thin, plastic bracelets, the kind of innocent-looking friendship bands that schoolgirls like to wear.


Available in a variety of colours and cheap enough to be bought with pocket money, they have become an overnight sensation in primary school playgrounds across the country.

But it is their name that causes alarm bells to ring: Shag-bands. And they are worn by children far too young to truly understand what that crude term means.



article-1215712-06768DFD000005DC-133_468x630.jpg Banned bands: Shannel Johnson was horrified when her eight-year-old daughter Harleigh said she had to 'make a baby with a boy' if her shag band snapped


'I couldn't believe it when my son told me what the bands are called,' says Donna Heaton, whose eight-year-old son, Sam, asked her for 20p to buy one from a schoolfriend at his state school last week.

'I was horrified. He doesn't even know what that word means. Apparently, he and his friends at school are using the bands to facilitate kissing, a bit like kiss chase.

'But I've since discovered through other concerned parents that the different colours mean different things.'

Alarmingly, these seemingly innocuous bracelets have been linked to gradations of sexual behaviour. Each colour denotes a physical act, from a hug or a kiss to showing body parts, to other acts that would make many adults blush.

If someone breaks the band off the wearer's wrist, the wearer supposedly has to offer the physical act that corresponds to the colour of the band.

A gold band entitles anyone able to snap it off to all of the sexual favours represented by the other bands.

Accountant Anna Kite had no idea that the bands being worn by her seven-year-old daughter, Holly, meant anything until another concerned mother in her home town of Horley, Surrey, phoned her.

'According to her son, he'd snapped a pink one from a girl's wrist at school that day, which meant she was supposed to show him her naked chest.

'My first thought was that my daughter, Holly, had about six of the pink bands because it's her favourite colour.

'When I questioned her, she told me what they were called, and confirmed that boys chased girls who were wearing them, and if they managed to grab hold of the band then you had to kiss them.'

Her ten-year-old son, Josh, had bands in different colours, which he had got from schoolfriends.








When Anna asked him what they were, he replied: 'If I snap a black one, the girl has to "do sex" with me.'

Anna says: 'I was mortified...disgusted. At that age, they haven't had any proper sex education.

'I confiscated the bands and Holly seemed to accept it straightaway. My son's petulant reaction reassured me that he saw them more as something that he had to have because his friends had them.'

Shannel Johnson, 32, from Sheffield, had a similar shock when she heard her eight-year-old daughter Harleigh say something similar.


'If they snap, I have to make a baby with a boy,' was how the little girl explained it.

'I was stunned and immediately sat Harleigh down. I said that was something adults did, not little girls,' says Shannel.

'Not in a million years would I have allowed my daughter to buy them had I known what they symbolise.'

Playground fads, of course, have always existed. Years ago, it was hula-hoops, marbles and kiss chase. But few have been as dubious as this one.

While shag-bands is not a trade name - the origin of the name is unknown - they are sold at mainstream stores such as Claire's Accessories and Peacocks, and are called 'jelly bracelets' or 'Gummies'.

Richie Hudson, who sells the bands in a shop in Croydon, Surrey, and on the internet, seems unconcerned about the growing outrage among parents.


Black: Sex

Blue: Oral sex

Pink: Flash body parts

Purple: Kiss

Orange: Love bite

Yellow: Hug

Gold: All of the above

(Meanings may differ around the country)



He sells more than 1,600 bands a week. At 75p for a pack of six, they fall well within the pocket money price bracket.

He denies that selling them is immoral. 'I don't think the bands are sexualising children,' says the 38-year-old, who has no children himself.

'There are far worse things going on in playgrounds for parents to concern them-selves with.'


Hudson says black bands - which denote intercourse - are his bestsellers. 'I don't think children buy into the sexual side - it's just a fad,' he says.

But a Facebook site set up by Hudson to promote the bands tells a different story. The site has 9,845 'fans' and a brief glance through their photographs reveals that most appear to be children and young teenagers.


The latest provocative question posed by the site's administrator is: 'If you had to snap a band, which one would it be?'

Cue lots of teenage boys opting for black and girls choosing yellow (a hug) or pink (a kiss in some places, a love bite in others).

While some websites suggest the bands are designed to be snapped, and the snapper given sexual favours by the wearer, others advise youngsters to wear colours that relate to their sexual experiences, like a badge of honour.

It's all very worrying, yet many parents will be unaware of the name of the bands their children are wearing, let alone their significance.

Those who do must decide how to deal with this disturbing craze. Shannel Johnson confiscated her daughter Harleigh's bands and spoke to the deputy headmaster at her state school last week. 'He reassured me he wouldn't tolerate them at school,' she says.

'Some of the other parents I spoke to had no idea what the bands are called or their sexual connotation. They were just as horrified.'

Donna Heaton, 33, media manager for parenting website netmums.com, lives in Rotherham, South Yorks. She confiscated the bands from her son, Sam, eight.

'It's not just the idea of young children hearing things they're not ready for that concerns me. It's also the thought that they might be bullied into doing some of the things the bands symbolise.'

While some parents may dismiss this new trend as a harmless fad that will pass, others remain uncomfortable about having had conversations about sex with their children long before they're ready.

And that is surely the most disturbing aspect of this craze - imposing a degree of sexuality on children at an age when they shouldn't even know it exists.

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This is a bit ridiculous. These aren't a new craze. Shag bands were around when I was 11 (14 years ago) and we all had them. They still meant the same thing back then, too.


Just because the kids give each colour a symbolic meaning, doesn't mean they are actually going to act on it. Me and my friends all had black shag bands, which obviously the boys used to go for first. It's an inborn instinct to show off masculinity. Kids show off and boast. It doesn't mean there is any truth in what they are saying.


When boys at my school broke our shag bands, it was more like "OMG LOL SEX GROSS!!! *runs away* ". And if we didn't run away first, the boys did, because they were CHILDREN.


There are always going to be kids who grow up without the kind of parental guidance or school education that leads them into trying sexual practices, and that is really sad. But the fact is, that it is those reasons, not kid's fashion crazes, that lead to kids doing that kind of thing. Those reasons need to be dealt with.


Children are ALWAYS going to talk about sex in the playground. One time I got slapped by my mum for talking about "doing the sex" or whatever. My best friend was obsessed about talking about sex. It didn't mean she wanted to do it, because we were 8 year olds and it was GROSS and funny. Kids like gross stuff and kids have a fascination with adult things, because adults are who they look up to, and who they will become.


There is no way in hell that a child with decent sex education and parental openness is going to use plastic bracelets as a sexual currency. They are a fad with a funny name and nothing more. Sheesh.


Mountain - molehill much? :o

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I think people buy them as normal bands, and some random person has thought that anyway who has any sort of band which corresponds to a colour should do those things...


Definetely a mountain out of a molehill!


Do they exist in Scarborough, then?:rolleyes:

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If you break your own...

:whatever: ?





I don't know. Apparently it would mean I would have sex with myself. This is difficult however, as I do not own both male and female genitalia.


I'm taking this very literally though, I very highly doubt it means I would have to go masturbate because it's meant to be a two-person contract :laugh3:

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