The school has upped the stakes if a student is caught using prohibited substances by eliminating the reduced tobacco consequence. This means that students will face harsher consequences for using drugs including detention, suspension or even expulsion. In addition, athletes face temporary or permanent removal from participating in games. However, an increase in drug use should not be met with an increase in punishment; instead, the school should target the issue at its very core: education.
Looking at the basic statistics, it’s easy for somebody to assume that drug use is actually decreasing. This is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which states that the use of illicit drugs by high schoolers is declining. However, what isn’t incorporated in that decline is the significant increase in the abuse of tobacco products, specifically electronic cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 11.7 percent of high schoolers reported using electronic cigarettes in 2017, as opposed to the mere 1.5 percent in 2011.
Handing out athletic and academic punishments is an ineffective way to decrease this epidemic. In the student and athletic handbooks, it is said that having a drug counselor will reduce the punishment, but this is not required and not well advertised. Through this, the school recognizes the importance of education, but does not emphasize it to help the student body.
For instance, most students aren’t even aware of how much nicotine, or that there even is nicotine, in electronic cigarettes, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores. In fact, according to Vox, a single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as two packs of cigarettes. This may be surprising to some students because electronic cigarettes are marketed as less harmful, which is exactly why education will discourage the use of all drugs, especially tobacco.
Educating a student on the exact reasons drugs are dangerous would make them reconsider their choices for the benefit of themselves and those around them. If a student is abusing a controlled substance, instead of having to attend a detention or suspension, the student should be made to attend a mandatory class in its place. Education is the key to success, so why can’t the school apply this same value to improving student behavior?