Are students vaping in Mercer Island High School bathrooms?

Dear YFS –

My daughter is a senior at the high school. I hear rumors that students vape in the bathrooms and that nothing is being done to stop them. How true is this?

RT

Dear RT,

Vaping is a current issue for many high schools across the country. Vaping heating cartridges of glycol combined with flavoring and/or nicotine or THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). Though Mercer Island High School (MIHS) staff report an increase in students vaping in bathrooms, these incidents represent a small minority of MIHS students. The school is aware and is acting to prevent vaping and address related disciplinary issues.

Parents, and the community, can take pride in that only 25 percent of MIHS students report having ever tried vaping (2018)—a category that includes electronic cigarettes, vaping pens, electronic hookahs, hookah pens, etc.). While still a real concern, this is substantially lower than the national average of 36 percent.

However, with only 6 percent of MIHS students reported ever vaping in 2016, it is a trend.

The rumors you are hearing might be influenced by the misperception among students and parents that “everyone is doing it.” Unfortunately, it can be human nature for youth risk behaviors to be exaggerated.

This does not minimize the concern but can be problematic if the story told on social media or in line at a coffee shop makes it seem that it is “normal.” When youth hear this, it influences what they think is normal behavior among their peers—a strong predictor of their behavior.

RT, as a parent, it is important to explain that, just like alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, MOST MIHS students do not engage in vaping. In fact, although just 25 percent of MIHS students have ever tried vape, the perception among students is that most (85 percent) have—a significant misperception.

In response, YFS and the MIHS student “SAFE Club” are partnering to message that most MIHS students actually choose not to vape—a modification of the “Most Of Us” social norms campaigns. Schools are also aware of the trend. Disciplinary action for students caught vaping at school is a 10-day suspension; reduced to three days if the student completes a drug/alcohol assessment and follows up with treatment recommendations. The school makes every effort to monitor problem areas on campus and uses infractions as an opportunity to encourage students to get help.

Vaping is a challenging issue. Vape products are too easy to get on-line and safety regulations have not caught-up with the exploding market. Vaping devices are discreet, can be charged with a USB port and, due to the minimal smell of vapor, are a challenge to monitor.

To decrease the chances that your child will use vape products, include the topic in your regular talks on substance use and health. Regularly let them know that you care deeply about their well-being and that you do not want their health compromised in any way.

Parents really are the No. 1 reason youth choose not to use substances.

Cindy Goodwin is the director of Mercer Island Youth and Family Services. The advice offered by YFS is intended for informational purposes only and to guide you in seeking further resources if needed. The answers to questions are not intended to replace or substitute for any professional, psychological, financial, medical, legal or other professional advice. If you have a question you would like to ask Cindy to answer in this column, or if you need additional professional resources, email miyfs@mercergov.org.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@mi-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.mi-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

[flipp]

More in Opinion

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Courtesy photo
Editorial: Keep Wyman as defender of state’s election system

Kim Wyman, a Republican, has helped expand access to voting and improved election security.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
What does it mean to violate the Hatch Act? | Roegner

The federal law was established in 1939.

Concerns about online securities trading platform Robinhood | Guest column

The problem is Robinhood is paid primarily based on order flow.

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Editorial: State lawmakers shouldn’t wait to start budget work

Making tough choices on cuts and revenue can’t wait until next year and hopes for better news.

Rico Thomas, left, has been a clerk in the Fuel Center/Mini Mart at Safeway in Federal Way for the past 5 years. Kyong Barry, right, has been with Albertsons for 18 years and is a front end supervisor in Auburn. Both are active members of UFCW 21. Courtesy photos
Grocery store workers deserve respect and hazard pay | Guest column

As grocery store workers in King County, we experience the hard, cold… Continue reading

A time for looking back in order to look forward

A 19-year-old Marine corporal stood 20 feet behind General MacArthur on Sept. 2, 1945.

Editorial: Honor 100 years of suffrage with your ballot

Women’s right to vote was recognized 100 years ago; we need to use the ballots women fought for.

A large webset offset printing press running a long roll off paper over its rollers at high speed. File photo
Editorial: Tax credit proposal would aid local journalism

Bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House would offer tax credits to advertisers and subscribers.

Don Brunell
Coronavirus comeback for Alaska Airlines?

It is no secret that airlines were clobbered by the coronavirus pandemic.… Continue reading

Richard Elfers is a columnist, a former Enumclaw City Council member and a Green River College professor.
Age of insanity for the left and the right

Do you feel that, like the COVID-19 pandemic, insane behavior is spreading… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Should the King County sheriff be elected or appointed? | Roegner

In addition to candidate races this November, there will be policy questions… Continue reading

Women breadwinners and financial planning | Guest column

By Robert Toomey, Special to The Reporter Women’s roles as it relates… Continue reading