Electronic cigarettes emerge as a new threat in public schools in the Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo.- Secondary public schools in Santo Domingo are grappling with the growing presence of electronic cigarettes, commonly known as “vapes,” among their students. Executives from schools in the capital city have reported that adolescents as young as 13 years old are engaging in this new trend.
School administrators have expressed their frustration over the lack of a clear consequence system to address the issue. While occasional searches in classrooms have led to the discovery of several vape devices, students have become adept at concealing them from authorities.
The problem is not limited to a few schools but has spread widely, prompting administrative staff to take their own measures in the absence of a consistent consequence system enforced by education authorities. As a result, punishments have been mild, and students have become more cautious in hiding their vaping devices.
The school counselors and directors have voiced their concerns about the undermining effect on disciplinary efforts when parents support their children’s actions. The misconception that vaping is harmless, coupled with easy access to these devices, has created a vulnerable and uninformed young population who have adopted the habit of smoking.
The Ministry of Education’s Director of Guidance and Psychology, Francisca De La Cruz, has stated that a new regulation addressing the entry and use of vapes in public schools is being considered for the 2023-2024 academic year. The absence of a specific ban on these devices in the existing regulations has made it challenging for teachers, psychologists, and school police officers to effectively monitor and address the issue.
The forthcoming regulations will establish guidelines for addressing vapes in schools, clarifying the responsibilities of individuals involved in preventing students from smoking.