KENDALLVILLE – Vaping has become more common among young people in recent years.
They come with different flavored juices and vape pens in different sizes, some as small as USB sticks.
Vape juices can contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals that could impact a person’s lungs.
Schools in the Four County area have been grappling with this problem with high school students increasingly vaping inside school buildings for quite some time now.
Lydia Gard, Dean of Students at Central Noble Jr./Sr. High School, said this problem is not unique to Central Noble, but to schools across the country.
âThe assistant vice-principal and I had meetings with administrators from other local schools and one of the main issues that came up was about vaping,â she said. âOne of our main points in tackling this is what we can do as a school to support students. “
Another way to combat vaping among students is to look for ways to deter use in school buildings.
She said they talk to students about making better choices outside of school and provide resources for them to quit vaping.
The most common place in a school building where students vape is in the bathrooms. Some local schools have made efforts to combat this by installing vape sensors in school bathrooms that detect vapor in the air. She said Central Noble had considered installing sensors to catch students vaping in bathrooms, but they decided against doing so because they found them to be ineffective.
“We have heard from other schools that students manipulate the sensors and damage them so that they do not work and some students have started using different types of steam that are not detected by the sensors,” he said. she declared.
Instead of using sensors, the school has stepped up efforts by asking staff members to periodically use the washroom and check them for students trying to vape. Another step is to limit the number of bathroom breaks students can take during class time.
The school has also stepped up its efforts in classrooms by providing information on the health effects of vaping in physical education and health classes. Information about vaping is also posted around the school to remind students of what it can do for a person’s health.
âThe guidance office also provides support to students and is ready to have conversations with them,â she said.
The group of students vaping at Central Noble is relatively small, Gard said. The school makes an effort to keep a close eye on the students in particular who are vaping in the school.
Vaping is definitely an issue that concerns Central Noble administrators and they have students who have had multiple offenses for getting caught vaping.
The school also offers resources for students outside of school with Central Noble in partnership with external agencies that will provide support to students addicted to vaping.
âParents should also have conversations with students at home about vaping and its effects on your health,â Gard said.
In DeKalb County, high schools like DeKalb are stepping up efforts to tackle school vaping by empowering students and educating them about vaping.
DeKalb High School principal Marcus Wagner said the school was able to secure funds for a program called “Drug Free DeKalb County” which aims to raise awareness of drug use in the county and a program online called Vape Educate, where students caught vaping at schoolwork through an online portal designed to educate students about the dangers of vaping.
âIt explains to them the side effects of vaping and why they shouldn’t do it in the first place,â he said. “It explains how it affects their health and why it is bad for them.”
He said the high school students not only vaped in the toilets, but also on school buses and in their cars in the parking lot.
DeKalb school resources officials have worked to crack down on vaping by issuing quotes to students caught.
âThere are areas around the school building where there is no surveillance,â he said. âAnother challenge is that vapes come in different shapes and sizes. “
The types of vapes available on the market are very varied.
The state of Indiana changed the age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21 last year.
He said that since the age for buying tobacco products rose to 21, the school has made it clear to students that no one on campus can vape on and off campus.
âOur campus is tobacco-free and not all students on campus are old enough to have it,â he said.
The effectiveness of these measures taken by DeKalb varies among students who vape. He said some students only take once to convince them to stop vaping and others try to persuade multiple times.
To help provide students with resources to help reduce their vaping use, the school has partnered with the Bowen Center in Auburn, which helps people with addictions and mental health issues, as places where students can get help.
The school has considered adding vapor sensors to its bathrooms, but nothing is concrete yet.
âWe’ve had a lot of talk about sensors in our schools. It may be a possibility in the future, but we have to know how they will help us, âhe said.