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Random Drug Testing in Schools

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Random Drug Testing in Schools

Considering the increasing use of drugs among today's youth, drug testing in schools has become necessary. The ramifications of using these drugs are detrimental to both the individual and society as a whole. Drug testing is meant to protect students from the harmful effects and has been shown to deter drug use in a large percentage of those on whom it has been practiced. The procedures themselves are non-invasive and result in no side effects. In addition, the United States Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of these evaluations. The random drug testing of students involved in extra curricular activities is a positive and beneficial policy and should be mandatory in schools.

Surveys have shown that drug prevention methods, such as random drug testing, are working. A one-year pilot study was conducted at Wahtonka and Warrenton High Schools in Oregon. Of 135 athletes at Wahtonka, only 5.3% were using drugs by the end of the 1999-2000 school year. On the other hand, of 141 students, 19.4% were using illegal substances at Warrenton where there was no drug testing going on. Besides being four times less likely to use drugs, Wahtonka attendees were "...three times less likely to use performance-enhancing substances such as steroids" (Associated Press 2A). Wahtonka principal, Merry Holland, was very pleased with the results; they continued testing once the study was completed.

There are many reasons that drug testing curbs drug use. It may be that the fear of being caught discourages kids from using. Board members at Antioch High, Illinois, provide an alternative theory. "...testing provides some students with a concrete excuse to say "no" when urged to participate in illegal activities by peers" (Grusich 3). An eleventh grader at the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway says, "Someone who hasn't started may be deterred from starting because of the testing. If I was thinking of getting started, I wouldn't want to get caught in school. I'd decide against it" (Ain 14). Ending a problem before it begins is a positive effect, especially when there is the chance that students might endanger themselves or others. Being under the influence of drugs makes a potentially dangerous situation even more dangerous. Some students are even taking these drug tests voluntarily. In Texas, a school offers discount cards to over 150 local businesses as an incentive for staying off drugs (Perry 16). This program is one of many different reasons that motivate kids to pass the tests.

Drug testing is growing in popularity. In addition to the ever-growing number of schools that test student athletes and those wishing to participate in extracurricular activities and companies that test employees, parents are now testing their own kids at home (Perry 16). Since parents test their own children, it is not unreasonable for schools to do so as well. Teachers act as guardians while inside the school and have the students' best interests in mind. They are "responsible for maintaining discipline, heath and safety" (Kozlowski 34). Parents support the schools one hundred percent. At Hebrew Academy, the parents on the school board "...unanimously approved the policy. No parents have called and said they do not want their child tested" (Ain 14).

The argument that testing is an invasion of privacy and infringes on civil rights is easily discredited. The process of a urinalysis test goes as follows: "a faculty monitor waits outside the closed restroom stall for the student to produce a sample and must listen for the normal sounds of urination to guard against tampered specimens and ensure an accurate chain of custody" (Kozlowski 34). This is considered to be a negligible intrusion of privacy. These tests are compared to standard head lice checks. Katherine Ford, the director of the Florida Drug Free America Foundation says, "No one claims it is a violation of a child's civil rights to have their head checked for lice. It is no different with drugs - except the harm that comes from using drugs is far greater" (Donegan 2). Also, schoolchildren submit to physical examination, vaccinations, and communal dress while attending school. All details of the test are kept strictly confidential. The police are never contacted. If the situation arises that a student is using drugs, the school and parents alone will deal with them. Participation in extracurricular activities is limited until he/she completes four hours of substance abuse counseling, but there are no academic consequences (Syllabus 12). The accuracy and "minimally intrusive nature" of urinalysis tests are not refuted



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