Thinking About The Children

Posted 26th June 2019 by Dave Cross
Stephen Grizzle is the Superintendent for Fairbury Public Schools in Nebraska. The three-school district has around 930 students, and Grizzle is drug testing them due to a so-called teen vaping epidemic. So far, he has tested 387 students at Fairbury Junior-Senior High School – a place where “vaping has skyrocketed”, Grizzle claims.

Superintendent Grizzle recently responded to Superintendent Darrin Peppard – a man whose Twitter feed reads like a self-published motivational novel – where Peppard said: “Vaping is ruining student athletes.”

“It’s a huge concern,” replied Grizzle, quoting a link to an article. A piece that contains a spectacular piece of stupid from Massachusetts Senator John Keenan, where he asks: “Why would they design a product that takes 8,000 flavours? They do it on purpose because they know that appeals to young people?”

The calculated citation aims to support his conviction that vaping has increased to rampant levels in his schools. “Vaping and smoking in our view is reaching epidemic proportions. It’s just a way we can deter kids from potentially being addicted to nicotine. Since smoking and using vaping products are against our policies, it makes sense to include that.”

Conflating vaping and smoking displays an ignorance for the topic.

Now, if a child wishes to take part in athletics, Future Business Leaders of America, marching band, or any of a number of other activities, they have to agree to random drug testing. This week, the school board has approved. According to the local newspaper: “Grizzle said he doesn’t worry about privacy or constitutional concerns.”

Grizzle also plans on adding wi-fi enabled sensors to monitor toilets for vape.

“It really helps the school to become a partner with the parents in helping deter kids from trying drugs and whatnot. We are pleased with the community buy-in. I think parents know we are trying to be as proactive as possible, so I think that helps. We want it to be a deterrent. Kids are under a whole lot of pressure to experiment with drugs or nicotine,” added Grizzle.

The school has 65% of the school’s senior students signed up for random urine samples and currently records 0.8% of the children testing positive for any of the substances on their prohibited list.

The Brock Independent School District in Texas implemented a similar system in February. Athletic Director Chad Massey said: “We are trying to give our kids an out of not doing it. Our main goal is to prevent any kid from doing any kind of drug or nicotine.”

Data still indicates that regular teen vaping is at very minor levels and confined to current or ex-smokers in both the UK and the USA – and that there is no “epidemic”.

Would you be happy to see your child or grandchild drug tested at school before they were allowed to take part in after-school activities? Would you trust the schools and testing companies to keep their data private? Do you worry this could impact a child’s future life?

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker