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Juuls in Schools: Is Enough Being Done?

Haley Seefeldt and Sophia McGinnis

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Rhinelander High School administration and staff believed that taking classes this past summer educating themselves on vaping devices would help put an end to the “juuling” epidemic.

Little did they know that  it would become an even bigger problem during the 2018-19 school year.

According to the Wall Street Journal, High School students who have used vaping devices in the last thirty days has risen 75 percent since last year (2017). 

Dean of Students, Matthew Knott, said, “In the beginning of the year it (vaping) was definitely more prevalent, obviously it’s kind of a cat and mouse game.”

While staff may believe the issue is declining, we, as students, we know this couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything students are just getting smarter and learning new ways to hide their use better.

Priority:

Since there are other behavioral issues going on in the school, we believe that staff isn’t necessarily prioritizing juuling as being one of the most important ones. 

The severity of an issue is based on the number of students caught doing it and there is an overwhelming number of students who don’t get caught juuling.

“The biggest behavioral issue is probably disrespect and defiance,” said Mr. Knott.

According to NBC News, however, an annual survey of substance use among high school students shows 37 percent of students have tried vaping in 2018, up from 11 percent in 2017. 

Mr. Knott said, “Juuling, there are a lot of kids doing it, we don’t know who’s doing it, we catch them when we can.”

In our opinion this shows that staff does have an understanding that many kids vape without getting caught, but that they choose to have a more laid back approach to it.

Consequences:

At RHS the repercussions of being caught Juuling consists of a one day suspension and a fine which is determined in court. On top of that, if you are caught and participate in a sport you would be suspended from playing for part or all of the season. Knowing students who are addicted, we don’t believe these consequences to be sufficient in solving their addiction.

“If you can’t make it through the day (without vaping), there’s a problem and let’s try to get you help,” said Mr. Knott. 

We feel that an appropriate solution would be to get students the actual help they need through a class or treatment program.  Mr. Knott’s statement shows that teachers know students are addicted and that the consequences set right now are not fitting to the problem at hand.

We believe there needs to be more attention focused on addiction rather than simply punishing students for something they can’t always control, otherwise this will be a never ending problem. Positive reinforcement would be a more efficient solution, rather than treating it as just another behavioral issue.

Gender:

While staff are aware that juuling is a problem of equal severity for guys and girls, it’s mainly guys that get caught.

“It has definitely been more guys being caught because of the fact that I’m a male and I can’t go into female bathrooms” said Mr. Knott. 

As females, we know that juuling is as big a problem with girls, as well as guys, and we feel it’s unfair that the boys restrooms are monitored more than ours. The lack of monitoring females conveys the message that males are being targeted. It also is apparent that what staff has been doing this year to try and limit the use of Juul’s has not been working to decrease the problem, which could be partly due to only focusing on half of the problem.

Our final thoughts on the issue of teens using vaping devices is that it’s a problem that’s not going to be solved anytime soon if RHS does not change its approach. It’s known that many more kids are doing it than the amount being caught, and yet it’s not being prioritized as a more important issue. Addiction is a real thing which needs to be addressed when determining consequences and we believe changes to how vaping is handled need to made as soon as possible.

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