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'It’s pretty messed up': Vaping and vandalism continue to impact high school students and staff across the region


It’s an issue affecting local high schools across both the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) and the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB).

"It's pretty messed up, I’m not even going to lie…the washrooms are always closed because of people vaping, smoking weed, doing drugs etc.,” said frustrated eleventh grader Adam Moustafa.

And he’s not alone.

“It's awful, one it smells awful, you see these pods everywhere, one time the toilet, you couldn't flush it because there was so many pod things in there,” added another eleventh grader, Aiden Sutcliffe.

Vaping inside washrooms has become a common scene within high schools across the region.

Moustafa and Sutcliffe are among dozens of students who spoke with CTV News London outside Sir Fredrick Banting Secondary School Tuesday morning, complaining about the current state of the washrooms inside their high school.

It’s an issue that both school boards are well aware of and are working to address.

"We've increased supervision, we're looking at alternate measures such as installing vape detectors, etc. We continue to work with parents and students to try really encourage them to engage in positive behaviours around the school,” explained Dennis Wright, superintendent of safe schools and mental health with the TVDSB.

There have been several reported instances where school staff have been forced to close washrooms due to health and safety concerns. However, both boards said at no point have students been left with no washroom access.

"We do have one specific example where we had a facilities emergency and within 10 minutes we had trucks pull in with porta potties just so we could provide that,” he said.

Wright adds that school support councillors have been added in some schools to engage with students in hallways, cafeterias and parking lots to encourage good behaviour and respect school property.

But it’s not just the vaping, there’s also been increased vandalism to washroom facilities, including damaging doors, toilets, sinks and ripping out soap dispensers from the wall.

"It became really noticeable a few years ago. If you remember, when the TikTok challenge happening [and encouraging] the vandalism,” said Roberta Gibson, assistant superintendent of education with LDCSB.

That challenge, dubbed the “devious lick” gained popularity on social media — a trend which involved students posting videos that show them stealing or damaging items taken from their school, most often, from their washrooms.

"We still don't have a soap dispensers in the girls’ washroom downstairs,” said eleventh grader Hala Alzureigi, who adds the school had to remove the doors to some of the washrooms to be able to monitor the behaviour.

“I think it's an ongoing challenge that will continue to be, as students work through those parts of their lives. So I think that, you know, especially with the vaping being so prevalent, with continued monitoring and continued interventions and working with our students to understand the dangers of vaping can help...diminish it,” explained Gibson. Top Stories

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