To be a amazed at the amount of teenagers smoking outside of school and wonder if there is a way i can approach the school about it?

(44 Posts)
Cookethenook Fri 17-May-13 10:03:18

Ok, i know teenagers smoke. It's not ideal, but i realise it's just one of those stupid things you need to try and get out or your system when you're young. God, i was awful. We would go to the local park every friday night, drink absinthe and smoke marlborough reds, so i can hardly talk! However, smoking at or near school was always a huge 'no' for us because there were very severe consequences for us if we were caught.

The issue is this. The local secondary school is situated just off the village green. Around the green are two primary schools, 3 nursery schools and my DS's school, whilst not on the green, is on the same road a bit further down the hill.

I'm astounded by the number of young people smoking on their way to and from the secondary school. It's not just one or two hiding round the corner, it's large groups of kids surrounded by a cloud of smoke- it's very obvious and they do nothing to try and hide the fact that they're doing it. There is a total lack of teacher presence, so i'm not sure wether they're unaware or simply feel that if it's outside of school hours, it isn't their responsibility. Obviously the parents have a part to play too, but it's a small place, so most walk to school from the beginning of year 7.

I think it's such a shame. The secondary school is the only non-grammar in the local area, so the majority of the kids at the primary and nursery schools will end up going there and i feel that they aren't setting a great example for the little ones (not that the teenagers probably care about that, but i can't believe the school doesn't). I'm a childminder and the kids in my care, including my own, have noticed the older ones smoking.

Should i approach the school about it? I don't want to look like a total nutter, but i feel that the school should be doing something to tackle the problem and discourage their pupils from smoking, for their health aside from anything else.

Euphemia Fri 17-May-13 10:05:50

The school can talk about the dangers of smoking until they're blue in the face, but there's nothing they can do if pupils are choosing to smoke outside school.

livinginwonderland Fri 17-May-13 10:08:59

The school can lecture them until they're blue in the face, but if it's outside school hours, there's very little they can do. Besides, I'm sure they have more important things to worry about than whether some teenagers are smoking outside of school hours.

chosenone Fri 17-May-13 10:15:24

Yes. Approach the school. Phone up and speak to the head directly. I am a teacher and our head takes complaints very seriously as he needs to market our school as every child that comes to the school is worth money and schools need money. Parent's ring in to complain about kids littering , swearing, messing about on the bus etc and our head deals with it the best he can. Smoking is illegal in under 16's and the school should be apprehending them. They are in uniform and this reflects on the school. However, I also think the same of the groups of kfc staff I saw fagging it in uniform y day.

RiotsNotDiets Fri 17-May-13 10:16:52

No don't bother, it's an act of rebellion, so being told off will just encourage them. Plus, as PPs have said, the school probably has bigger issues to worry about.

bettycoast Fri 17-May-13 10:19:30

I saw an article somewhere recently about a school that has started to allow smoking (over 16s only presumably) so long as the children have written permission from their parents. I was a bit hmm to start, but after I stopped laughing, I realised it was genius - who wants their parents approval! Apparently smoking has plummeted as a result.

Picturepuncture Fri 17-May-13 10:20:22

The school can and should be taking action here. They are under the schools jurisdiction on way too and from school. Particularly in uniform. You are right it does reflect badly on the school and set a bad example. The school probably won't be successful in stopping them smoking but they should be able to stop them smoking obviously, in public, in uniform around junior age pupils.

Complain to the head.

Madsometimes Fri 17-May-13 10:20:34

Actually smoking is now illegal for under 18's. I agree, call the school. When we were at school, we would have been hauled over for smoking in school uniform. If we attempted it, we would at least have tried to be subtle shock.

Lots of schools now have teachers patrolling the local area before and after school (although poor behaviour is often after school).

Perhaps the school could work with the children on a stopping smoking program if that is needed.

tiggytape Fri 17-May-13 10:23:02

Smoking is illegal under 18 now isn't it (used to be 16) and if it is directly outside the school with the children in uniform, the Head Teacher can punish children for this even though it is off premises and outside school hours. Heads do have the power to do so (just as they can punish bullying on the way to and from school).

And they should punish it - it gives the school an awful reputation. The fact the children aren't even trying to hide the fact means they feel the school won't care which is hardly the image you want to promote.
I also don't understand what 'bigger worries' a school might have than something that is illegal, causes fatal illnesses and brings the school into disrepute all at the same time?

Well yes you could approach the school, and they could say that if pupils are caught smoking outside of school there will be X consequence, but that will also mean that it then needs to be policed.

The school will either be reliant on busybodies members of the public reporting smoking and being able to identify the exact culprits or they will have to enforce some sort of teacher presence outside. Firstly its a resource they may not have or may not want to use in that way. Then comes the issue of how far this presence goes, the kids will just smoke round a corner form where it starts, or if you want them to arrange it so its not near the other schools that sounds like it would need at least a few members of staff, the teachers probably need to be in the school for when the kids arrive so the school will need to find someone else to do it. Its not as simple as you first think.

I went to a school which tried to enforce this, it was never effective. But most recently my DS3s schools has brought this in, it was then scrapped over the summer because kids were obviously smoking but the amount of resources it required was only catching maybe 10% and took staff away from things which were for a much higher percentage of pupils.

Cookethenook Fri 17-May-13 10:25:19

mad it was the same at our school. There were teacher patrols all along the road that the school was on, in the town and at the station. If we were in uniform, we were the school's problem and got bollocked for it (the best punishment was having to go to one of the teachers who had smoked all of her life and she would go 'look at my face! Do you really want to end up looking like me?!' it was surprisingly effective.)

Chopchopbusybusy Fri 17-May-13 10:25:33

I'd contact the school. DD2s school would take this seriously as they are in uniform and so representing the school.

SuffolkNWhat Fri 17-May-13 10:26:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PinkyCheesy Fri 17-May-13 10:30:47

It's illegal to sell cigarettes, tobacco or cigarette papers to anyone under 18, but it is NOT a criminal offence for a person under 18 to smoke.

GlassofRose Fri 17-May-13 10:37:56

Am I the only one who doesn't think it should be the school doing something about it?

HousewifeFromHeaven Fri 17-May-13 10:38:44

I saw a schoolgirl get into a car yesterday, I guess it was her grandad picking her up. They looked so happy, laughing etc and I thought to myself how nice it was.

Then she lit up a fag he gave her!!! Without the windows down!!!

I must admit I was so shocked I laughed blush

I haven't smoked in years but certainly remember hanging about the school gates twos upping on a fag with me mates grin

HoHoHoNoYouDont Fri 17-May-13 10:41:13

If the children are in uniform then the school should be addressing it. If I were you OP I'd definitely take it up with the school.

tiggytape Fri 17-May-13 10:43:09

Cigarettes though do come under special rules for schools - they count as prohibited items and are in the same category as drugs, knives, fireworks i.e can be searched for without parental and pupil consent, with reasonable force if necessary and confiscated. That alone tells you the school should treat this more seriously:

"Head teachers and authorised school staff may also use such force as is reasonable given the circumstances when conducting a search without consent for knives or weapons, alcohol, illegal drugs, stolen items, tobacco and cigarette papers, fireworks, pornographic images or articles that have been or could be used to commit an offence or cause harm. Force cannot be used to search for items banned under the school rules."

It is more of a big deal for children to smoke now than it was - it is more frowned on, it is less usual in the adult population, the purchasing age is higher than it was, it is linked to drug use and other later problems. No doubt the fact it is more shocking now than 40 years ago adds to the thrill but it also means the school should clamp down at least on the blatant children smoking right up to the gates.

mummytime Fri 17-May-13 10:46:23

The "give up smoking" club is the biggest and most popular at my DCs secondary. If you see it as a problem I would complain to the school. Most schools have an unspoken policy of the sixth formers having a smoking spot out of sight of the school gates (and the teachers having another one even more out of sight).

Bambi86 Fri 17-May-13 11:03:29

Depends really. I work at a secondary school in a deprived area, and a lot of the pupils smoke outside of school. The HT can't do much as the parents just don't care/ support their teenagers re smoking...

Plus if they take off their jumpers and ties, they are not in "uniform" anymore. Or they can just keep their jackets on.

IMO our secondary school had bigger things to worry about - I think we are just grateful that our pupils are on their way to school, regardless wether they are smoking or not...!

Of course different schools will view this issue differently.

KansasCityOctopus Fri 17-May-13 11:06:28

at my secondary, smoking in uniform or within 20 metres of the school gates for the yr 12/13s was a disciplinable offence!

Startail Fri 17-May-13 11:10:14

I'm in two minds about this.
No they shouldn't be smoking at all and certainly not in plain sight of their school and of primary schools.

However, if school cracks down do you move the problem to more secluded locations. Around here we have had police warnings about older DCs introducing younger ones to alcohol, drugs and sex at the far end of the park.

Personally I hate smoking (it is slowly killing my DDad) and I think I would say something as I hate the younger DCs seeing it as something all teens do.

My DD's school take cigarettes of the pupils if they see them, they are not supposed to smoke in uniform, of course they do they just hide in the park. We had a letter the other week saying E cigarettes were not allowed in school.

StuntGirl Fri 17-May-13 16:08:40

I would say something, and I would expect the school to do something. Same as if I saw bullying or anti-social behaviour from school children outside of school.

grimbletart Fri 17-May-13 16:13:24

maybe they should video the children and let them watch it. The kids may even clock how pathetic they look - desperately trying to appear grown up while looking completely immature and stupid.

overprotection Fri 17-May-13 16:15:42

You need a hobby.

I wonder where you live OP, I've just been told that my own 15yo DS2 has just been seen walking out of school rolling a cigarette and I don't know how to handle it at all. I don't think that laying down the law is necessarily the right way to deal with it as I think he'll end up doing it behind me back anyway. I've spoken to him about why I don't want him to smoke, but despite what he said, it has obviously fallen on deaf ears. I feel like screaming "HELP"

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Fri 17-May-13 18:17:25


You could use nicotine tests for your son and either punish or bribe him to stop. (Easier said than done though...)

HollyBerryBush Fri 17-May-13 18:44:04

We police outside our school and herd them up the alley away from the road so prospective parents passers by cant see them.

You cant stop them, not when their parents are funding the habit in Y7 shock

It's pointless giving them detentions, that doesn't cure addiction.

I favour a school trip to chest ward, I'd go so far as to have shock tactics and have someone willing to come in with emphasyma (sp) and on oxygen. Strangely our SLT thinks I'm barking mad.

And I'm a smoker, I wish I wasn't.

Mia4 Sat 18-May-13 13:08:41

You can't stop them, you really can't-if they can afford to buy or steal off their parents then they'll get regardless and they'll smoke all the way to school. The most the school can do will lecture, which given the lectures we had at school regarding this subject (often from teachers we knew who smoked), frankly for a teen they'll be laughable and eye-rollworthy. They can ban smoking in the immediate school area, mine did, but then people complained that we'd go down the next road, to the park or the alley and smoke there.

The teachers can patrol, sure, if they've got nothing better to for which most will begrudge if it becomes routine-between SATs, GCSE, A-levels, revision classes etc, this is something they don't need and can't do anything about anyway-except chase kids slightly further, but it won't stop them smoking.

If they want to detract from smoking they need to hit kids when younger an show them the biology behind it, the addiction and the bad lungs-seeing the diseased lungs at the body works exhibition gave my DP the push to quit, visual in your face truth that gave him that little bit extra, a 13/14 year old seeing that might think twice.

Justforlaughs as someone who started at 14, it was a curious thing more then rebellious for me sine my dad had smoked anyhow, I enjoyed and then i got addicted. Don't make it a 'naughty' thing, punish him and treat him like a child because chances are his is more rebelling and that's the response he will want and will make him just more sure to stick to out of stubbornness. I'd ask him why he smokes: does he like the taste/do all his friends/does he thinks he looks cool? Understanding may help. You can't stop him, unless you supply him with all his money but then he'll pinch off mates; as much as I'm sure you'd love to say 'my roof/my rules' practically it doesn't work and will just drive a wedge-education is key, get him to see all the facts, body works with the lungs is a reality check for sure, seeing someone with an oxygen tank or in need of a lung transplant..etc and better education on cancer because i always always could counteract all the 'facts' my parents had like 'you'll get lung cancer'-well no, not always, some people smoke decades and don't, some don't smoke at all and do- lifestyle plays a big part but so can genetic susceptibility, you take the chance yourself. When you can counter with 'no' and falsely reassure yourself, you stick to it.

Another option which didn't work for me but did for a friend is the 'Alan Carr stop smoking book' just ask him to read all the way through the once and say you won't ever ask again.

The way to tackle it is to confiscate cigarettes which are bought into school. They shouldn't have them there. If alcohol was found I'm sure it would be removed pronto.

However, I do on principle really dislike bag searches, so it's quite hard to reconcile the two ideas!

specialsubject Sat 18-May-13 13:15:34

they can be disciplined for smoking in uniform but that's it.

more concern: where do they get the stink-sticks from? It is illegal to sell them to children.

the mess left is also disgusting. Kids seem to be too stupid to use litter bins now and the dog ends and ash only add to it. I wish it was only legal to smoke if you ate the dog end.

BackforGood Sat 18-May-13 13:34:47

I'm another that would phone the school. To some extent, you are right, there's not a lot the staff can do about things that happen outside school hours, but a good school wouldn't be happy about this happening so blatently right by the school, and whilst the dc are in uniform. At my ds's school they have senior management outside the gate every morning and evening and it's drummed into all the pupils that they have a responsibility to the school and themselves whilst travelling to and from the school, and indeed, at any time they are in uniform.

GoblinGranny Sat 18-May-13 13:36:24

'but i feel that the school should be doing something to tackle the problem and discourage their pupils from smoking, for their health aside from anything else'

They do. confused
You'd be better off talking to the parents.

GoblinGranny Sat 18-May-13 13:37:29

If smoking is illegal for under 18s, you could also call the CPO.

GoblinGranny Sat 18-May-13 13:40:40

'Am I the only one who doesn't think it should be the school doing something about it?'

TBH, GlassofRose, we're in the minority here. I think the parents should be doing something about it. Their children must stink of smoke, as must their uniform, they are probably smoking at the weekends too.
But no, it must be the school's problem. Of course.

Cherriesarelovely Sat 18-May-13 13:41:38

I agree with you OP and many others. I think the school ought to be doing something about it. In my school (primary) we dealt with complaints that our children were running about damaging plants in a church yard close to the school. It's not the same I know but, as a school, you do need to think about the welfare of the kids in a holistic way, the affect your students have on the local community and also the reputation of your school.

Cherriesarelovely Sat 18-May-13 13:43:32

I agree with you on the shock tactics Holly.

Remotecontrolduck Sat 18-May-13 14:25:41

Large group of sixth formers do it outside the gates, or within a 10 metre radius of it here.

They're obviously sixth formers as they're not in uniform. Some of them are probably 18 as well.

I don't think you can do much about it, I'm sure the school are aware of it but it's beyond their control unfortunately. In my ideal world no one would smoke anywhere but sadly teenagers always will I reckon!

GoblinGranny Sat 18-May-13 14:29:45

Most of the teenagers that are friends with my children don't smoke. I can only think of two that are occasional smokers.
But then, I only have one friend that smokes.
So what makes the difference, if the schools are following national guidelines on PSHCE and the teaching of health education?
All pupils should be getting the same message from the schools.

ComposHat Sat 18-May-13 16:30:45

Teenagers smoke crafty fags outside school.....shocker! It has been a feature of school life since the 50s at least.

Whatever next, posters up in arms about dogs sniffing other dog's bollocks.

Parajse Sat 18-May-13 17:37:53

I smoked all the way through secondary until I had my second child. School made us perfectly aware of the health risks and even tried confiscating and bag searches- didn't make any difference, we just got the year 13s to buy them for us at lunchtime blush

There's only so much the school can do IMO. The question that really needs to be asked is where the teenagers are getting the money for cigarettes from, they're not exactly cheap.

rabbitlady Sat 18-May-13 17:40:23

its illegal to smoke in public buildings, and surprisingly, that's stopped children smoking in the toilets.

videoing other's people children, as suggested by someone here, is not such a good idea!

rabbitlady Sat 18-May-13 17:42:25

pass round a smoker's coat in class - the stink will put them off. i had a rant in class about 'someone smoking' because the smell was so bad. the senco was on support - it was her coat!

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