Nail polish to detect date rape drugs, West Michigan experts weigh in

ALLENDALE, Mich. — There’s a new invention turning heads across the nation. It’s a nail polish that changes color once it comes into contact with a date rape drug.

It was developed by a group of undergraduate students who took part in a competition aimed at solving real world problems through science.

The invention is receiving mostly positive responses, with many looking at the nail polish as a way to prevent a violent sexual assault.

However, experts also said that while it can help with risk reduction, it’s important to not shift the focus from the predator to what the victim could have done to prevent the crime.

A group of undergraduate students at North Carolina State University are calling their invention “Undercover Colors.”

Grand Valley State University student Mary Kendall said that it’s a convenient idea.

“I don’t know how else to tell if your drink has date rape in it, so it seems really easy just to like, I mean you are holding your drink, just stick your finger in it, and it sounds really good,” said Kendall.

GVSU’s Women’s Center said that the invention helps push forward risk-reduction products already on the market.

“I applaud the effort put into the individuals that have created the nail polish, like they did it from a place of care and concern,” said Theresa Rowland with the Women’s Center.

Experts said that with more products on the market to prevent sexual assault, it can create a false sense of security. It may also reduce the liability of the assailant.

GVSU said that it averages about 35 reports of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking a year. The school said that some times the crime involves a substance that incapacitates the victim.

“It does make it hard in certain circumstances to reconstruct exactly what happened, but sometimes if you have a victim who is able to come in very quickly afterwards, blood screens can be done,” said Dwight Hamilton with GVSU.

Experts at GVSU also said that most commonly a victim knows the person who committed the sexual assault against them, rather than the popular belief that women only have to protect themselves from strangers.

“Walk in a well lit parking lot, if you carry your cell phone with you. Those are risk reduction, but what it does is perpetuates the myth that sexual assaults happen from strangers or by strangers, when the reality is especially on a university campus, is it happens between people who know each other,” said Rowland.

With heads turning over the latest invention to help keep women safe, Kendall said that you can never be too cautious.

“You get distracted like if you are on a dance floor or whatever and it’s really busy, you can’t always be making sure nobody is bumping into you and dropping something into your drink,” said Kendall.

The group of undergraduate students are now looking for funding to help bring their invention to the commercial market. You can donate to their research by clicking here.

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