By Gerardo Lopez, Clarion Staff Reporter
Vaping has been troubling school districts since its introduction due to its nature of looking like a pen or sometimes a USB device and also causing adolescents to become addicted to nicotine at a young age. It is a sensitive subject, and something that is not widely mentioned but largely seen. It is widespread at Kennedy, and other schools nationally. Vaping poses a significant problem to hall monitors and has caused them to restrict access to bathrooms and other areas used for vaping. Bathrooms have been affected the most, with many being closed during lunch and some during passing periods. Sometimes the bathrooms reek of smoke and are so crowded that students actually using toilets during passing periods may arrive late to class.
In recent years vaping has become even more dangerous for adolescents because anyone who vapes is at higher risk of contracting and suffering complications from COVID-19 – anyone who vapes has less immunity and is more likely to touch their face. The good news is that, during the shutdown of schools in 2020 – 2021, the number of adolescents who vape has gone down because most students were home and could not access vapes as much. Most adolescents who vape get their vapes from their friends so with the lockdown access to vapes declined since they could not get in touch with their friends and get more vapes.
The CA Healthy Kids Survey shows that vaping decreased from 9% in 2019 to 2% in 2021 for freshmen. This trend was also noticeable for juniors where vaping went from 12% in 2019 to 5% in 2021.The graph above shows that the vaping among students doubled from 2017 to 2019, and this trend was also seen nationwide according to an article by the Pew research center.
However, with the return of in-person learning the number of students who are vaping is perceived to have increased according to Robyn Mutchler, the head of discipline at Kennedy. With the return of in-person school students are able to meet with their older friends, those over the age of 18, and make them buy vapes. Mutchler also mentioned that flavored vapes are another cause of the increase because they are more addictive. With the increase of vaping among adolescents, the Kennedy administration has been taking preventive measures in order to control the spread of vaping: for example, closing bathrooms during passing periods and increasing patrols during passing periods around bathrooms, parking lots and the outskirts of the campus.
Students at Kennedy should not ever try to vape during or after school because vaping carries consequences that could have a grave . If a student vapes at Kennedy and is caught it is a suspendable offense that could affect the students chances of getting into college, since colleges see it on their record. If someone is seen vaping, it should be reported to a hall monitor or directly to the disciplinary office.Vaping could affect others through second-hand smoke, the smell of the smoke and peer pressure from students who vape. Vaping also makes them more vulnerable to diseases like the COVID-19 virus since vaping damages the lungs and could affect the chances of recovery.