Educators try to combat vaping epidemic in schools

This article originally appeared on News Challen 10 KFDA. To view the original article, click here

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) – As vaping in school becomes more common, teachers across the country are trying to combat the issue.

One group of junior and senior high school students estimate 70 out of 100 students in their class vape.

Every single one of the students in the group has been offered to try vaping. They believe most people do it to fit in. They also believe some are even getting sick from it.

“I just feel like since they think it’s not cigarettes that it’s like, okay,” said Morning Slaughter, a junior at River Road High School.

If you don’t vape, you’re seen as a snitch.

“I’m the party pooper, whatever you want to call it,” said Mikayla Rowland, a senior at River Road High School. “When they’re like, ‘Do you want to vape?’ and I’m like ‘No, you shouldn’t have one of those at school.’ And they’re like ‘Oh, you’re one of those,’ a snitch.”

Trying to get a hold of a vaping device is no problem. They say some parents even buy it for their kids. If not, they’ll find another way.

“They’ll have their friends or siblings buy one for them without their parents knowing, so they’re able to sneak it and hide it around their household even,” said Jordan Valdez, a senior at River Road High School.

It’s not just happening at home.

“In their cars before school and after school, the bathroom, cafeteria, probably the basketball gym during P.E. or some time like that,” said Lance Welps, a junior at River Road High School. “And probably in that hallway where the locker rooms are in the basketball gym.”

Rachel Freeman, the assistant principal at River Road High School, says she thinks vaping is an epidemic. While she says it’s not a daily issue, students vaping at school is an issue that has significantly grown.

Freeman has confiscated a box full of vaping devices over the past few years.

The district has already put some new restrictions in place this school year for those who get caught vaping or with a vaping device.

“The first occurrence is five days of ISS,” said Freeman. “The second occurrence is 10 days of ISS, and then a third occurrence is placement at our alternative education campus. We’ve got our counselors going in and doing guidance lessons in the classrooms with all grade levels, just to talk about the dangers.”

More changes are on the way.

“We are in the process of purchasing vape detectors, which it looks a lot like a smoke detector, and you can put it in bathrooms or hallways or classrooms, wherever you feel like it’s necessary,” said Freeman. “You can set it to where it goes off like an alarm, or you can also set it where it doesn’t go off and it just sends the administrators a text message and an email, and so then we can go into the bathroom immediately and try to catch the students that are doing it.”

Some students thought the school already had those devices installed, proving the lengths they’ll go to just to vape.

“They were climbing up on the stalls to try to stuff the vents with paper towels, so that it wouldn’t detect the vape smoke,” said Freeman. “And so that’s how like a whole wall came out that came down. One of the bathroom stalls was ripped out of the wall because they were standing on it trying to stuff paper towels because they thought we had smoke detectors in the vents.”

Despite the school’s efforts, Freeman fears students still won’t head their warnings.

“Teenagers just have the attitude and the mindset that they’re invincible, and just in general about everything,” said Freeman. “And so that’s another thing added to that mentality of being invincible.”

The classmates agree, saying the students who vape don’t look any different from other classmates who don’t, leaving teachers and parents in the dark about whether their student vapes or not.