It was in 1736 that Benjamin Franklin advised the fire-weary people of Philadelphia, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
While this well-known phrase can be applied almost universally, it makes us at RE@L think about the time and effort necessary for our nation’s educators to address the current vaping crisis in our schools.
Hundreds of school districts are investing in vaping detectors and placing them in bathrooms and other places where students may vape. These detectors (think similarly to a smoke detector on steroids) alert the school administrator when the air particles in a room have changed dramatically. When the detector is triggered, school administration is notified.
While it’s easiest to procure consequences when a student is caught in-the-act, it’s possible that a detector could be synchronized with cameras in the hallway. In the event the administrator is not able to immediately respond to the alarm in person, at least there could be hallway camera surveillance and the time of the alarm could be synced with the time that students come out of the restroom. Believe me, it’s a lot of x’s and o’s to add to the administrator’s playbook.
At RE@L, we empathize with our school administrators. These individuals understand that vaping must be addressed in real-time on the school site. They know that vaping today is the primary method of delivery for nicotine. But they also know that vaping is becoming a preferred method of delivery for sometimes deadly street drugs. And they also know that they are spending far too much of their time addressing vaping on the school campus.
And so on one level, using detectors to catch students in the process of vaping provides a relatively clean way to procure whatever disciplinary consequences need to come with it. It is not unique for students to be cited by law enforcement for underage use, and it’s likely that a student will also receive some sort of school discipline. Detentions and suspensions are commonplace. And expulsions will be on the rise as students explore other chemicals via vaping.
It is absolutely necessary for our school leaders to address vaping in real-time, when it is happening at the school level. At RE@L, however, we believe that it’s difficult — if not impossible — for us to discipline our way out of this vaping crisis. It’s 2022, and unless you’ve been sleeping for two or three decades, you KNOW that punishing students into compliance today is much less effective than it was not too long ago.
It’s why at RE@L, we applaud school districts who are working with commensurate vigilance on vaping PREVENTION. Our outstanding educators across the nation are using curricular materials — beginning in elementary school — which are focused on an ounce of prevention! Kudos!
Of course we are over-the-top excited excited about the school districts that are adopting RE@L’s anti-nicotine, anti-smoking, anti-vaping curriculum, 1Up On Vaping™. Designed by the creative minds that brought us the original Oregon Trail™, in 1Up On Vaping™ the student becomes the main character of a three chapter graphic arts story. On the journey, the student first learns about the impacts of nicotine and vaping on their bodies, including detailed graphics about the respiratory system, and they watch story characters model refusal skills. Designed for middle schoolers (6th grade seems to be the sweet spot), the online curriculum is highly engaging, and it includes puzzles and games along the way to enforce the learning. Tell your educator friends about it.
At RE@L, we believe — and we have always believed — that educating students is the most important pathway to addressing this vaping crisis we see in our schools. Perhaps a school strategy that does BOTH would be most effective. A strategy focused solely on punishment, however, may address the immediate needs of school personnel to catch kids in-the-act, but it does little to combat the long-term goal that we should all be embracing: Taking Down Teen Nicotine.
Let 1Up On Vaping™ be included in your school’s ‘ounce of prevention.’ We know it is worth a pound of cure!
Some images on this pages are provided courtesy of pixy.org.