Parent warns of vaping in school bathrooms

Photo by Sam Deeb

Bathrooms in the middle and high schools are still a “hotbed” for vaping despite the vape detectors in place, according to a Marblehead High School parent who requested to remain anonymous to protect their child’s identity.

“According to my child and a lot of other kids you could just walk into any bathroom and it’s available,” the parent said. “School should be the place you feel safe sending your children to and it’s a place I feel least safe when she’s there. I’m always nervous because it’s always available.”

When the parent brought the issue to the schools, they were told there are vape detectors in the bathrooms.

“But if it goes off, how soon is someone there? It doesn’t matter if there’s a detector if you don’t know who’s in the bathroom and you can’t get somebody there in a second,” the parent said. “The question for Marblehead is, when that detector goes off who gets notified and how fast they are and have they caught anybody?”

According to a Boston Herald article from 2019, schools across the Commonwealth are beginning to install vape detectors.

But according to an article from Wired in 2019, these detectors are easy to evade. By the time school officials receive a notification and walk to the bathroom, the person who had been vaping is already gone.

Data released by the CDC in 2016 details studies that show the percentage of teens using e-cigarettes is high.

More recently, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC released data in November from the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS).

“Findings show that in 2022, more than 1 in 10 middle and high school students (3.08 million) had used a tobacco product during the past 30 days- including 16.5 percent of high school and 4.5 percent of middle school students,” according to the FDA report.

Additionally, e-cigarette usage among middle and high school age students “remains a top concern for the FDA.”

“In 2022, about 1 in 10 or more than 2.5 million U.S. middle and high school students currently used e-cigarettes (past 30-day),” the FDA said in the report. “14.1 percent (2.14 million) of high school students and 3.3 percent (380,000) of middle school students reported current e-cigarette use.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, vaping can lead to asthma, lung scarring, organ damage, addiction, and cancer.

The parent of a student at Marblehead High School said their child admitted to partaking in e-cigarettes during school hours and on school property.

“I just think it’s frustrating that these vapes are taking over these kids’ lives because now it’s all they think about is when they can go to class and get the bathroom,” the parent said. “My daughter’s even told me people vape in class when the teacher turns around to the board, it’s just literally everywhere.”

When asked for a comment regarding vaping in the school bathrooms, Superintendent John Buckey directed The Weekly News to the middle and high school principals. Principal of Veterans Middle School Matthew Fox and Principal of Marblehead High School Daniel Bauer declined to comment.