Dubai Private Schools Implement Strict Anti-Smoking Policies for Students
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai has confirmed that private schools in the Emirates have implemented clear policies to ensure the health and safety of students and to reduce negative habits and behavior. The "Student Behavior Management Regulations" state that smoking or possessing smoking tools on school grounds is a violation that requires action. The penalty for such a violation can result in suspension for three days and transfer to another school.
Two doctors have alerted about the dangers of electronic cigarettes for school students and young people, as it may lead to serious health complications in both the short and long term. They are calling for a ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes without proper identification and for parents to exercise greater control over their children.
They explained that many students were using credit cards registered under their family members to purchase e-cigarettes online, in order to bypass the ban on sales to those under 18, and emphasized the need for comprehensive regulation on the purchase of e-products for children.
To put it in detail, Mona Diab, a mother of a student, says, "Smoking is a bad and dangerous habit. In the past, many students used to secretly smoke, away from the watchful eyes of their parents and teachers." However, e-cigarettes make it easier for them to indulge in this habit at school or anywhere else. The biggest problem is that students imitate each other in this bad habit, which causes us to be worried that our children will develop this habit.
She added that she learned from her son that the school authorities occasionally search students' school bags to ensure that they are not carrying electronic cigarettes.
Kholoud Ahli, a mother of two students, stated that the school searched her sons' backpacks and pockets in suspicion of them carrying "electronic cigarettes" and added that "this step was praised by the school as it protects our children." She went on to say that not only students, but also female students engage in this habit, which she witnessed firsthand in various educational classes, both in public and private schools.
Aziza Ahmed, a mother of a student, stated that many students may be interested in smoking for the sake of emulation or curiosity towards the pleasure other smokers derive from the habit. Occasionally, they may want to prove themselves as not being cowardly. However, students cannot bring cigarettes and lighters in their backpacks, which makes e-cigarettes an ideal solution for them.
Abeer Al-Sayed, the mother of a student, has stated that smoking in school is not a new issue, as some students, both male and female, were already using e-cigarettes before the outbreak of Covid-19. She has called for stricter control over students, including thorough checks when entering bathrooms, in order to prevent smoking from spreading among students. Mohammed Omar, the father of another student, has confirmed that searching students on campus helps prevent them from engaging in negative behavior. He has called on school administrators to take decisive action to prevent smoking from spreading on campus, including assigning school supervisors to monitor student behavior and placing smoke detectors in bathrooms.
During an inspection of stores selling smoking supplies, Today UAE found that some stores had signs hung on their doors with the message "Prohibited to sell to individuals under the age of 18.
The employees of these shops report that the police have placed a ban on selling any smoking-related products, including cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, to individuals under the age of 18. However, in many cases, it is difficult to determine the exact age of buyers as some students may appear older than their actual age.
Mustafa Alaa, an 11th-grade student, stated that students at his school are vaping, but outside the school's jurisdiction. These actions are not monitored by the school.
He added, "I noticed electronic cigarette smoke in the school restroom on multiple occasions. I reported this to the supervisor who then decided to increase monitoring of students in order to identify smokers.
Seventh-grader Muhammad Kamal stated, "A classmate and I went to a tobacco shop to purchase an electronic cigarette, but the shopkeeper refused to serve him due to his young age. We then went to a grocery store in the Nuaimiya area and were able to purchase an electronic cigarette.
A secretary at one school, who declined to give their name, stated that students smoke among themselves, but off campus.
He added, "According to the student code of conduct, if a student is caught smoking on campus, the next step is to summon their guardian to sign a pledge to not repeat this behavior again.
In response to a question posed by "Today in the UAE," the Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority confirmed that all private schools in the Emirates adhere to clear policies that prioritize the health and safety of students. These policies aim to cultivate awareness within school communities and improve the overall quality of life for students. Additionally, they emphasize the importance of collaboration between families and schools in ensuring the wellbeing of students. In short, the Authority views student health and safety as a top priority for everyone involved.
According to the "Regulations on Student Behavior Management," smoking or possessing smoking tools on campus, including e-cigarettes, is considered a violation and requires multiple measures to be taken. Starting with a deduction of four credits, the student will receive a written warning for the first offense, and their guardian must sign an agreement to ensure that the behavior is not repeated and the student's behavior is improved. The student's case will be studied by academic advisors or social workers, and they will observe the student's behavior and provide guidance.
As a consequence for any further offenses, the student will receive a deduction of 8 points, a suspension from school for up to 2 days, and will be assigned educational tasks to complete while reporting to the school's behavior management committee. The student in violation and their guardian will be issued a written warning and a series of strategies will be implemented to modify their behavior.
Second-time offenders are suspended from school for 1 to 3 days and given study assignments. They receive a final warning and disciplinary action, which may result in them being transferred to another school for their unbecoming behavior.
Dr. Bassam Mahboob, a consultant on respiratory diseases and asthma and member of the United Arab Emirates Medical Association, has stated that vaping among students becomes more prevalent from grade seven onwards, with both male and female students using e-cigarettes.
He explained that it relies on unregulated and unknown chemicals that mix various flavors favored by smokers, which can conceal the act of smoking without exposing their smoking status. These substances have caused lung failure and even death among teenagers in the US and other countries.
He emphasized the need to strengthen awareness and control measures for the sale of these products, prohibiting sales to those without identification to ensure the age of smokers, and urging parents to provide more supervision for children.
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