Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, news, and advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

Written by Jacob Huss
on August 26, 2019

Student drug use is a prevailing challenge for school districts across the country. Although federally illegal, underage students are frequently using substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana on and off school campus. According to the Center for Disease Control, teen substance use has been linked to delayed growth and brain development, increased risk behaviors such as unprotected sex and dangerous driving, and the development of adult health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders. While recognizing this growing risk, school administrators are at a loss of how to identify and intervene when students are using drugs.

Student Drinking and Driving:

Recently in South Carolina, two high school seniors were killed in a car accident because they had been drinking before driving home. They were only one month away from graduation. Sadly, this is a story that is not uncommon, and this exact scenario has been repeated in many towns across our country. The data Gaggle gathered over the last school year indicates that the number of students using or abusing substances like unprescribed prescription drugs, tobacco, and alcohol is increasing. 

Student Vaping and E-Cigarette Use:

One recent trend is vaping, where students use some form of e-cigarette to inhale nicotine and water vapor. According to statistics by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, vaping is the second most common form of substance abuse when measuring 8th, 9th and 12th graders. We regularly encounter students talking through email or online documents about using a Juul (a brand of e-cigarette.). What makes these situations more alarming is that many students surveyed do not know what chemicals are present in the vape they are inhaling. 

Student Documentation of Drug Use:

Many students also like to “show off” to their friends by taking images or videos of them smoking cigarettes or marijuana. These images or videos are then shared over social media or uploaded to a student’s school provided Google Drive account. We also see a frequent number of students emailing one another about being at a party and confessing to what substances were being used by the people attending. Using their digital devices, students often implicate themselves or others while documenting their drug use without considering the consequences of their actions. 

Identifying and Intervening in Student Drug Use:

Students have been abusing substances and alcohol for decades, but technology has made identifying incidences of illegal drug use much easier. Gaggle alerts your district-assigned contact directly when we review content that indicates students are engaging in drug or alcohol use. Because our safety team is reviewing content 24/7, we are able to respond immediately when a student’s illegal behavior is flagged by our system. 

The fight to help protect students from drug and alcohol abuse is one that school administrators are always battling.The truth is that schools don’t have to do this alone. Gaggle is partnering with districts across the country to alert designated emergency contacts as quickly as possible to provide the needed intervention that can help students make positive decisions or save lives.  
According to recent school reporting, Gaggle helped school districts saved 722 lives last year alone. Beyond that, there were thousands of student interventions documented by schools across the country. How many more students could you have protected if your district was implementing Gaggle’s 24/7 Safety Monitoring System? Download the Gaggle State of Student Safety Report to discover how many students, like yours, were protected from risky behaviors last school year.

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