I was six when Brownsville Station recorded the rebellious classic “Smokin ‘in the Boys’ Room”, and a high school student when MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e covered the song 12 years later. I didn’t smoke – I was learning in college – but even in the Reagan 80s, kids were sparkling in the stalls between classes.
“Vaping in the boys room” just doesn’t sound the same.
But is it really a bigger problem?
The issue made headlines last week when three high school students in Martin County were hospitalized after using vape pens containing THC – the psychoactive active ingredient in marijuana – and other unknown substances.
Two students from Martin County High and one from South Fork overdosed; the injuries were not fatal.
Following: Three students hospitalized after apparent vaping incidents
But they led to an explosion of concern among school officials and parents. On January 8, Superintendent Laurie Gaylord launched an automated call to all middle and high school families, warning of the possibility of additional overdoses and advising parents to check “their belongings, backpacks and vehicles. children for the presence of vape pens or other items. “
âIt’s happening in epidemic proportions, and not just in Martin County,â Gaylord said in a subsequent interview. “I knew the students were vaping” on campus, she said; âI was not aware until last week’s incident that they were vaping THC or other illicit substances.
“And I think most parents don’t know about it either.”
In September, the United States Food and Drug Administration declared that teenage e-cigarette use had reached “epidemic proportions.” tobacco, fresh cucumber, crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e and mixed fruit.
And as I type this in, I start to feel like a 50’s parent, warning of Elvis Presley and the devil’s music of rock and roll.
So how much of a problem is this? Children have been sneaking cigarettes into school forever. Drugs too. The year after I graduated there was a major cocaine crisis in my high school. It was in 1986.
I don’t endorse any of this, of course. But the point is, we parents have always had something to fear. Some of them are quite legitimate; some of it is exaggerated.
So with vaping, what is it?
I posed the question to two (hopefully) irreproachable sources: the Stuart Moms Facebook group and my own high school student, my 17-year-old son.
He is in his final year at Jensen Beach High School; I asked him how common vaping is and do kids actually do it on campus.
His response: “More than you think.”
âKids do it all the time on campus, mostly in the washroom, but some do it in class, in the hallways, whatever,â he said.
âKids just think it’s safer than cigarettes,â my son said.
My question on Stuart Moms’ Facebook page drew over 30 responses, including one from Cherie Wright: âMy 10th grade student says it’s an epidemic and kids as young as grade school age are vaping. . She says she sees him every day.
Indeed, several said that their college students say that it is common in their schools; one mom said she caught her 8th grader with a Juul.
Amy LaBelle Belowch summed up the general sentiment: “It’s A LOT more than just ‘smoking in the boys’ room.'”
And for two reasons, I think it’s fair:
First, it’s much easier to cover up than your traditional cancer sticks. On the Stuart Moms thread, former school board member Tina McSoley confirmed what my son said: Kids do it in class.
“Stealth vaping” is one thing, because the exhaled vapor barely has a slight aroma.
Back then, you could never smoke in class. Unless you are suicidal.
Second, the ability to vape cannabis – and god knows what else – with an e-cigarette. A 2016 survey found that 9% of teens had done so; this number has probably increased since then.
So yes, this is a growing problem, which is causing growing concern, but also growing awareness among parents.
Tykes & Teens, the Palm City nonprofit that provides mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment counseling to children, will host a live Facebook chat about teens and vaping at 11:30 a.m. on Monday January 21. And I was surprised how much those in the Stuart Moms group already knew about the subject.
It is good, it is necessary. Because kids will always do silly things; technology is making things easier than ever.
Moms and dads need to stay one step ahead. So even if we are a little alarmist, if the pace picks up, so much the better.
Gil Smart is a TCPalm columnist and member of the editorial board. His chronicles reflect his opinion. Readers can reach him at [email protected], by phone at 772-223-4741 or via Twitter at @TCPalmGilSmart.