WELLINGTON, Fla. — An epidemic that is causing trouble for teenagers is being thrust into the spotlight in Palm Beach County.
An epidemic that's causing trouble for teenagers in being thrust into the spotlight in Palm Beach County.
An alarming number of teens vaping in schools has caught the attention of the State Attorney's Office, and a partnership has been formed to crackdown.
"It's pretty common now and everyone has it, adults have it, children have it," said James Byrd, who graduated from Palm Beach Central in May.
Byrd says students can easily conceal the devices, and then inhale the dangerous ingredients in schools.
"I'd say almost every hour you would see at least four kids in the bathroom vaping," Byrd said.
The number of teens vaping has skyrocketed in Palm Beach County prompting the State Attorney's Office and the school district to sound the alarm.
"A lot of what we're seeing is not vaping in terms of using nicotine, we're talking about vaping using the THC oil," said Cheo Reid, assistant state attorney and deputy chief of juvenile division.
In 2017, six cases were referred to the state attorney's office, 117 cases in 2018, and so far 46 cases in 2019.
Dave Aronberg is warning students they don't know what they're buying illegally off the internet, and if THC is involved, they could be charged with a third degree felony.
"You don't want to have trouble getting into college or the military because you did something stupid in school and puffed on a vaping pen," Aronberg said.
Aronberg's office and Safe Schools are teaming up for a town hall in Wellington Thursday to help educate parents about what to look out for, and empower students to make better decisions to avoid having a criminal record.
"This is a danger to their immediate health and to their future success in life," said Aronberg, who added students that are charged will not be eligible for the first time juvenile offender program, which means they will carry that record with them.
The town hall will be held Thursday at Wellington Community High School from 7 - 9 p.m. All parents and students from neighboring schools are encouraged to attend.
The Teen Coalition in Action, a group raising awareness about vaping, is able to provide peer to peer or teen to parent training. For information visit www.pbcsac.org.