GILES COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – One in every 10 high school students in the country is vaping.
That’s a shocking federal statistic released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some of these vape products even carry THC. In Giles County, Sheriff Kyle Helton called the vaping problem in schools an epidemic.
News 2 spoke with School Resource Officers who spend much of their day investigating vape issues.
The SRO’s who work in the two high schools and middle schools told News 2 that kids are using vapes in classrooms and in hallways, hiding the vapes on their bodies.
SRO’s said the students often hide vapes in bathrooms, in ceiling tiles or around toilets for their fellow classmates to use later on. The SRO’s showed News 2 hundreds of vapes seized from schools and students over the last few years.
“Custodians will find vapes behind the toilets so kids will hide them and text other kids and let them know the vape is behind the toilet, and they go in there, close the door and smoke them,” Sgt. Titus Gilbert said.
“I just think this here will hurt some of our kids. We have to get control of this,” Gilbert added.
SRO Michael Woodard said students get addicted to the nicotine high.
“It’s a nicotine high, synthetic nicotine, not a derivative of tobacco so it’s a little stronger and gives them a little rush,” he said.
Sheriff Kyle Helton said his officers spend much of their time in schools working vaping cases, which takes away from other important duties.
Woodard said students used to charge their vapes in their computers in class, disguising the vapes at thumb drives. Some students are more blatant.
When told that one in 10 students vape, Giles County SROs said it’s actually more.
“Easily 95% of the kids that go to our high school are either holding, using or have used a vape,” SRO Jason Gulley said.
“I was talking to a group of middle school kids in our library and I asked about 30 kids how many of those kids have a good friend who has vaped or is vaping, and I think that two of the 30 didn’t raise their hands,” Woodard added.
Sgt. Gilbert said enforcement is one avenue to curtail the problem, but he believes parents must get more involved.
“Talk to your kids, be a parent, don’t be their friends, that is what a lot of parents do, trying to be the kids friend,” he said. “Talk to them, let them know this is not good to do, talk to them and see if they have friends trying to influence them to get them to do it.”
The sheriff’s department told News 2 they are doing active enforcement at stores that might sell vapes illegally to kids.