Boom in drug-related suspensions in QLD schools highlights dangerous trend
A troubling spike in suspensions and exclusions in Queensland state schools has been linked to an addictive new trend.
Thousands of students were absent under the disciplinary measures handed down for drug-related incidents.
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The annual total of drug-related suspensions and exclusions reached 7873 as of November 15.
That’s an increase of 359 disciplinary absences since 2021 school year. This represents the 570,000 students across the state’s 1,258 public schools.
The alarming boom was highlighted last Friday in a question on notice to Queensland Education minister Grace Grace from Queensland shadow education minister Dr Christian Rowan.
A Department of Education spokesperson told 7NEWS.com.au the troubling upwards trend can be linked to vaping.
“The growth in drug-related disciplinary absences relates primarily to the increase in incidents involving students vaping or possessing vaping implements,” the spokesperson said.
“Vaping-related incidents are usually recorded in a broader substances misconduct category which includes tobacco and other illicit substances.”
A Queensland Health spokesperson told 7NEWS.com.au it acknowledges the dangers of the ballooning problem.
“Despite vaping being a relatively new trend, we already know from the advice of health experts how dangerous these devices are and, unfortunately, their growing popularity among young people,” they said.
In part, a problem for society
In Queensland, electronic cigarettes and electronic cigarette products containing nicotine are illegal unless on prescription and supplied from a pharmacist or through Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) processes.
While vapes contain a whole range of harmful chemicals, they have also been found to contain nicotine even when claiming not to. A recent WA crackdown found around 5000 vapes contained nicotine despite being labelled otherwise.
Vapes have already been banned in schools, and another Queensland crackdown earlier in the year proposing searches of students’ bags, pockets and pencil cases received mixed reviews.
Queensland Teachers’ Union spokesperson Cresta Richardson told 7NEWS at the time that the searches “(were) not a commonsense approach”. “Our schools are not jails, our students are not criminals,” she said.
Grace told 7NEWS.com.au the government is working on campaigns with the Cancer Council, Heart Foundation, and Lung Foundation, as well as “(discussing) vaping with my Ministerial Student Advisory Council” – but said it is also up to the public.
“Vaping is banned at all Queensland state schools and a range of resources are available to help schools reduce its prevalence.”
“However, as the Cancer Council has said, it is a broader public health issue that society as whole needs to address. Schools will play their part, but these issues do not start and finish at the school gate.”
Queensland Health has proposed law reforms and the development of a licensing scheme for the sale of vapes to help curb the problematic pattern, with a spokesperson telling 7NEWS.com.au: “We know more needs to be done.”