Students of all ages at a special school in Queensland are permitted to have smoking and vaping breaks to reduce stress and disruptive behaviour during class, parents and former staff have revealed.
It’s understood Arethusa College’s Deception Bay campus north of Brisbane reportedly implemented the policy several years ago, despite staff raising concerns.
Why are students permitted to vape?
As many as 50 students are believed to be on a list as permitted to smoke or vape and even have a designated area.
While the college seeks permission from parents, one claims that their child was allowed even after they informed the college they didn’t want to child smoking at school, The Sunday Mail reported.
It’s illegal to supply cigarettes or e-cigarettes to anyone under 18.
Queensland legislation also states that education facilities, both public and private should be smoke-free.
Arethusa College insists that it’s ‘never been found in breach of our legislative duties’.
‘We have been open and transparent with public health authorities,’ executive principal Lisa Coles told the publication.
‘We have seen the majority of young people who come to us with a nicotine dependency leave our College without one.’
She added the college took a transparent approach to smoking or vaping dependency without judgment while addressing the issue with students through a ‘rigorous education program.’
EmmanuelsBlog doesn’t suggest that the school provides cigarettes or vapes to students.
Arethusa College states on its website that it does not condone the use of cigarettes for underage students.
What school policy says
‘However, we recognise that a small number of our students do choose to smoke,’ the policy states.
‘The campus Principal works with each student and their guardians to remove any obstacles that prohibit students from attending school due to not being able to smoke at school.’
The policy adds that students’ cigarettes and lighters are handed in at the start of the day and that vaping and use of all other substances are banned on campus.
Former staff have spoken out about the policy, claiming the college’s approach was that ‘if they (particular students) are triggered, let them go and have a smoke’.
Another ex-staffer described the policy as counter-productive.
One parent claimed that their child is now vaping, despite telling the college they did not want their child smoking at school.
‘They (the college) said they (students) are going to do it anyway, so they would rather they do it in a designated area where they are safe and supervised,’ the parent said.