SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — We know there’s a problem with teenage vaping.
Here are the latest numbers from the FDA:
More than 5 million 6th through 12th graders admit to vaping in the last 30 days.
That’s up significantly from last year.
More than one in four high school students admits to vaping in the last month, along with more than one in ten middle school students.
A youth group at Holy Cross is made up of various high school students from Sioux Falls. Periodically they talk about real life issues; like sex trafficking, internet safety and bullying.
KELOLAND News sat down with them to get their thoughts on vaping.
Don: Let me ask you this, how prevalent is it in your high schools?
“Very, very, you can’t walk into a bathroom without seeing four people in a circle doing it,” senior Peyton Plagman said.
“It’s like hard to go to the bathroom, like have had friends who have gotten into trouble because they were in the same bathroom with somebody who was vaping, so all they think is they were vaping too, so they’d get into trouble too,” senior Noah Collins said.
Don: You say it’s prevalent in your schools, can you put a percentage to it?
“40 yeah 40%,” senior Jadeyn Foss said.
They say that number could be higher, because they don’t know if someone only vapes at home, but 40 to 50% is what they see in school.
The bathrooms are the number one choice for where students vape.
“It’s so addictive, that people will do whatever they can just to get a hold of one and you can’t have cameras in bathrooms and teachers in bathrooms, all the time, so it gives them time to do it in stalls or not even in the stalls,” junior Joylee Christensen said.
But it’s not the only place.
“Yeah yeah, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do it outside, I’ve seen one in the classroom right behind the teachers nose, it’s that easy, or if a teacher walks out of the classroom for just a bit, it’s that quick,” freshman Emma Madeja said.
Don: So the followup question to that is, do you think the schools are doing enough to crack down on it?
They say that question is hard to answer, but they’d like to think so.
“It’s such a small thing that you can carry around with you so I feel like having it as accessible as it is, you know it’s not like a cigarette where you have to have a lighter and all that stuff, it’s so easy for kids in school to use,” junior Jasmine Jensen said.
And they say that’s part of the reason it keeps happening.
“They keep finding ways to hide it, you can use this sharpie or something they have all these new ways to do it, it’s so addictive that people will do whatever they can just to get a hold of one,” sophomore Noah Collins said.
They say they’ve seen students even vape in hallways, undetected because they’re so crowded.
“It’s easier than a lot of people think,” senior Josie Summervold said.
But could the district be doing more? These students told us, their schools haven’t talked about vaping in front of a large assembly.
Don: So neither school has had a large assembly to talk to the student body about the dangers of vaping?
Group: No, no uh uh.
I asked them what else might work to get kids to stop vaping.
“I’m not saying the Sioux Falls School District should do this, but I’ve seen people buying their vapes off them to get them to stop or to quit doing it,” Plagman said.
“I’ve heard about anonymous reporting where the students come in an anonymously give the office information on what’s going happening, but that has to do with students snitch and nobody likes snitches.” Collins said.
“Okay, but how effective are those posters, they’re not, nobody is going to stop and look at a sign,” Christensen said.
I asked them if any of them vaped or at least tried it. Only one of the students in our discussion admitted to trying vaping.
“You can’t make somebody quit, that’s something they have to do themselves,” junior Jasmine Jensen said.
“If you are already addicted it’s not really going to do much for you so that’s the issue, we need to find something that will be effective,” Foss said.
“I think it can get better, but I don’t think it’ll ever go away unless we have an actual solution,” senior Sidney Schaeffer said.
Here at KELOLAND Television we are putting together a special report. We will spend a half hour focusing on teens and vaping and JUULing.
Join us on Monday, December 2nd at 6:30 p.m. We’re sitting down to talk about vaping and JUULing with students, administrators doctors and a counselor.
We’ll go over warning signs and have resources for teens struggling with addiction. It’s information every parent, student and educator should know.