There is something else palpable and alien, rearing, and growing up in our schools. It is the increasingly acknowledged phenomenon of dating. An entirely new and unfamiliar frontier for all concerned, this high school culture is cocking a huge snook at the hitherto acceptable definitions and parameters of teen discipline, safety, and security.
Vaping and Juuling are the new gateway drugs used for coping and self-soothing. These are covert methods for ingesting nicotine and marijuana (pot/cannabis/weed/ganja/charas/bhang). Addiction can happen in a matter of weeks and young people are fascinated with the paraphernalia around it, the tanks, the mods, the Juul, the chargers, and the pods. Most of these devices fit neatly up one’s sleeves or in a pocket of jeans or a backpack and because the output is vapor, it is either odorless or has a child-friendly smell like that of bubble gum or cereal.
These are heartbreaking times. Youth was supposed to be the spring of life, a time of promise and vitality looking ahead with eyes of wonder. Instead, you have zoomers aged 14 on medication protocol for anxiety. Those young bodies have already seen enough. These are spirits that are perplexed at the chaotic waves of misinformation, polarizing views, and poorly researched opinions crashing against their weary minds. It is not unusual to have a zoomer share, “There is nothing to look forward to.” And this if you are honored enough to be privy to the workings of their inner minds. For the rest of us, it is withdrawal, disconnect, even dissonance. Families are no longer able to keep up with their young, that space has been taken over by friends, therapists, YouTube, and Google.