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Smoking in school bathrooms: the nationwide issue explained and how to combat it

Is it right for schools to limit the number of bathrooms available just because they think that students are doing illegal activities there?

As the use of electronic cigarettes (vape) and drugs becomes more common, schools have started to limit and even monitor the washrooms in some extreme cases.

Kids crowd the bathrooms in large groups between periods and even during the middle of class. At my previous school, security gave up within a month into each year as suspending a dozen students at once reflects poorly on the school itself, especially in a privileged area that claims a high standard of education (which is a lie like most schools). Because of this, schools resort to providing a very limiting amount of washrooms available to the students for use.

The problem is that schools are reducing the number of available bathrooms since most students that vape or use drugs mostly do so there. Even when this is meant to help the learning environment be safer and healthier, it causes more problems than it solves.

Limiting bathroom use is not helpful at all since students who vape or use drugs can go somewhere else hidden to do their illegal activities since most school campuses are fairly large.

On the other hand, students that use the restrooms for their intended use will be negatively affected. This can cause problems like kids losing learning time since they have to walk across the campus to relieve themselves because the bathrooms are so spread apart. Several students say their aversion to food and drink has led to headaches and trouble focusing in class. 

Vaping came onto the market unregulated and widespread due to the variety of flavors kids could choose from. Vapes contain a chemical that will affect the not yet fully grown brain of children, leading to addiction issues. As scientists and health experts were scrambling to understand the risk associated with a wide range of products, many kids had already become addicted to vaping. Over the past decade, the FDA has been able to place restrictions on vaping. According to a 2019 survey, more than 5 million U.S. middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in a 30-day time period (U.S Food and Drug Administration, 2019). Prevention is the best method of defense for parents fighting to keep their teens and young adults away from vaping.

People can Restrict access to vaping and tobacco-containing products by making them super expensive and hard to get. The 2021 NYTS also found that 28.7% of youth e-cigarette users reported having someone else buy e-cigarettes for them, undermining the impact of youth access and age-of-sale laws. A 2018 study found that there have been anecdotal reports of kids pooling together money to share a device and sell “hits” from the device to recoup the cost. 

Schools should start a vaping and drug use awareness program and inform teens about the dangers and harm that it can cause to their bodies. 

Or, schools should implement more interactive anti-vape and anti-drug campaigns to better inform kids. By straight out closing up many bathrooms, all it does is incentivize kids to find other ways to conduct illegal acts. Campaigns that highlight the dangers of vaping and drugs clearly pinpoint the root of the vape/drug pandemic. 

Furthermore, schools can get the parents of children to actively participate in ways to dissuade kids from doing unlawful acts by reasoning with their children. Have an honest discussion about the effects of vaping and how this type of addiction can lead to other substance abuse. Help them recognize the dangers and show them tangible research on nicotine addiction.

In conclusion, reducing the number of available washrooms for use not only does not solve the problem of vaping and drug use, but it also causes more problems. Instead, the teachers and staff should work together with the students to help them break from  these addictive and unhealthy habits.

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