Family & Education

Strictly Orthodox school launches crackdown on vaping

Head warns problem needs to be tackled across the community


Unholy smoke: school warns of vape problem (Getty Images)

A Strictly Orthodox school has warned that it will suspend pupils caught vaping as it attempts to counter what its headmaster called a “sinister” trend.

Zvi Leibovics, head of Beis Medrash Elyon, a small independent boys’ school in Hendon, told parents it was necessary to take a tougher stand to discourage the practice.

In a letter, he explained, “When some of our children started vaping, we as a school thought that there wouldn’t be such extensive implications if we imposed a considerable monetary fine”  – as the school had set out last September.

“Some parents took the standpoint to allow the child from time to time to take a puff on their own or an older brothers vape, with the idea of letting him have a go at it, thus taking away the thrill, as they would prefer their children being open with them rather than have it being done behind their backs.

“But we now see that this doesn’t work; as the saying goes, ‘Give them a finger, and they’ll take an arm’.”

The JC understands that the school has also tried personal coaches to try to dissuade vapers.

Unfortunately, Rabbi Leibovics wrote, “a growing number of children” are becomiong addicted “and finding it very difficult to stop”.

Over the past few months, “we have seen this developing into something more sinister than just a health hazard, which in and of itself is extremely serious”.

Although some boys used to hide in alleyways to vape, “it is slowly starting to happen on public

transport and in school toilets, and we are now at a stage where it could occur in lessons.

Approximately 14 boys are strongly affected, and 12 boys are giving in to pressure - which is 23 per cent of the school!”

The school has observed vapers boys “subconsciously preoccupied during shiur [religious classes] or lessons, scheming when to sneak out with their friends to vape”.

Warning of the potentially severe health risks of vaping, Rabbi Leibovics said Elyon planned to bring in guest speakers to educate boys. But since this would be not sufficient to deter those already affected, it was introducing its policy of suspension.

He said he was more than happy for his letter to circulate across the community as he believed the problem would hit every educational institution and “we need to combat this issue”.

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