New menace lurking in schools

We should be alarmed by the rapid increase in young people vaping. This new menace impacts students and teachers.

Many schools are encountering similar issues: the sweet smell of raspberry, bubblegum or vanilla wafting from toilets and shrubbery. Students asking to ‘duck out’ to the toilet during lessons, groups of students huddling suspiciously and students in empty classrooms at lunch and recess.

These are the signs that vaping is alive and well in your school community – girls and boys are equally interested in ‘grabbing a vape’. I believe vaping is bigger than cigarette smoking during the 1980s and 90s.

Many parents don’t vape, so students are using other sources – a black market develops in the school, money changes hands, people who are not members of the school community lurk around outside after 3.30pm, ‘drops’ are arranged, a network is developed, the supply chain put in place.

Detecting these thumb-sized vapes is impossible. It’s a game that students are winning. Students in Year 5 are using vapes and the menace is present in every year group in high schools.

School authorities are at a loss as to how to combat the problem – and it is taking everybody’s valuable time away from teaching, supporting and learning.

Research indicates that only by a systematic, structured approach will this new menace be controlled. Here are some ideas:

  • vaping education classes
  • peer-to-peer education
  • involve parents in vaping education
  • anonymous reporting
  • counselling.

We all have a part to play – look for the signs, be proactive, talk to parents and report to police. More work intensification for teachers and support staff.