The best part of vaping being marginally on the rise this past year at Kopachuck was witnessing student empowerment and activism. Many of our students were frustrated with a small handful of students vaping on campus. They were talking to adults at school about this, talking to each other and to their parents. They were taking action.
Posters about the harmful effects of vaping were created and hung in our hallways and in the bathrooms. In addition, staff, parents and students were reporting to administrators about students vaping, particularly in the restrooms. This gave Mr. Hudac and me the opportunity to address this student health and safety issue.
Mr. Hudac and I increased our visibility during passing periods, including strolling through restrooms and checking video footage of hallway traffic when we received reports that someone was vaping. Our staff members increased their visibility, too.
When a student or students were discovered, Mr. Hudac and I responded with a consequence, including discussing the risks of vaping with the students and partnering with parents.
Our Healthy Youth Survey results, from October 2016 and 2018, uncovered some statistics for further study and action. For example, in 2016 only 1 percent of 8th graders said that they have tried a cigarette whereas, in 2018, 6 percent said they had. Keep in mind that the 8th graders are a different cohort, so directly comparing the data is tricky.
In 2016, 94 percent of the 8th graders selected “very wrong,” to the question, “How wrong do your friends think cigarette smoking is?” However, in 2018, 82 percent stated that cigarette smoking was “very wrong.”
Nationwide, parents and the medical community share their concerns with students’ attitudes towards tobacco. Why the shift in attitudes? A search in YouTube for the harmful effects of vaping will uncover slick, professionally produced videos with young, hip people demonstrating how to reduce the risks of vaping. What doesn’t come up as top searches are scientific videos that show the true risks, such as this UCLA School of Medicine video (less than 5 minutes of your time).
This coming school year, in partnership, we will continue to find ways to diminish campus vaping as well vaping, in general. Please talk to your children about the risks and show them the UCLA video. Consider using a 3 A’s protocol, which is identifying one thing you Agree with, one that you Argue with and something for Action.
We have appreciated the students’ involvement in getting the word out, too, and wish to thank our ASB student leaders as well as our 8th graders who created posters in their health classes.