Several schools across the country are now implementing drug testing policies as a way to deter students from taking drugs or abusing alcohol. The latest to adopt similar action is the Etowah County School District.
On July 23, the Etowah County Board of Education approved a drug testing policy for Grades 7 through 12 students who want to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities. The policy will also cover students who drive on campus at Etowah County Schools.
The drug testing methods that will be used are saliva and urine tests which could identify multiple substances including marijuana, alcohol, and synthetic drugs. Students who submit to a drug test will be selected randomly. The Etowah County Community Corrections is in-charge of administering the tests. Questionable test results will be sent to a lab in California for confirmation.
“We’re excited to have this contract with the Etowah County School system,” Elizabeth Russell, of Community Corrections, told The Gadsden Times. “We view it as a preventative service. Hopefully, we will help any student that may have a problem with some type of substance.”
The Board believes that the drug testing program would be helpful in discouraging students from abusing drugs and alcohol.
Southside Principal Marguarite Early was glad about the Board’s decision, saying a drug testing policy could be crucial in saving children’s lives.
A non-profit foundation agreed to shoulder part of the initial expense that the Raleigh County Schools would need to step up its fight against substance abuse among the youth.
Board members of the Carter Family Foundation unanimously approved a $50,000 grant which will be utilized once the Raleigh County Board of Education passed a proposed drug testing policy for students.
Pete Torrico, one of the five-person board members of the Carter group, described their decision as “a step in the right direction.” He said that the drug problem in southern West Virginia is putting a strain on the state workforce and it’s only logical to help the younger generation develop into productive individuals.
“We can’t re-educate all the adults, but we can start with children and get them started off on the right foot,” Torrico said.
The policy under consideration by the BOE seeks to implement a random drug test among students who participate in extracurricular activities, as well as those who drive vehicles to school. Two of the BOE members expressed their support for the policy and another two don’t believe it’s the solution in curbing substance abuse in kids. One of the board members is expected to deliver the deciding vote when they meet at a hearing scheduled June 14.
Jim Brown, Raleigh County Superintendent of Schools, told the Associated Press that the Carter Family Foundation’s grant is a positive sign that they have the community support. He stressed that the goal of the policy is to give kids an incentive to resist drug use.
Adolescence is the time of experimentation and when peer pressure is at its strongest. As parents it is understandable that we only want to keep our teens drug-free to the point of considering drug testing them at home. But the question is: should parents really have to do it?
Drug testing advocates firmly believe that teenagers are less likely to use and abuse banned substances if they know that their parents would subject them to a random drug test at home. But apart from prevention, drug testing allows for early intervention in teens who couldn’t resist the temptation of illicit drugs. As addiction specialists often say, it’s easier to treat substance abuse problems when early detection occurs.
However, drug testing isn’t always an easy policy to lay out in the household. Privacy concern is a big thing for any of us, and it is all the more a big deal for teenagers. Just raising the possibility of a drug test can already elicit angry protests from teens, and sometimes forcing such policy may result to animosity between the parent and the child. It’s also worth mentioning that teenagers these days have become smarter and more sophisticated in concealing drugs, not to mentioning beating drug screens.
Drug testing your kids is a matter of personal and individual decision. While it can be effective in preventing drug abuse, it can also pose a great challenge when dealing with uncooperative teenager. It could be worth trying, though, but it’s also important to educate your kids about the effects of substance abuse while they’re still young.
Drug testing may not be commonplace in middle school for the simple reason that drug abuse is not as rampant among middle school students than it is among high schoolers. But a new study suggests that random drug testing middle school students make them less likely to use drug in the future.
The study, conducted by The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) and Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, surveyed more than 3,500 students at New Jersey middle and high schools over a 7-year period. Participating students came from schools with and without random drug testing program.
According to the researchers, only about 1 percent of 8th graders reported ever using illicit drugs, and only about 14 percent reported drinking alcohol. That figure of 14 percent dropped to 6 percent among students who were tested for drugs and alcohol at some point.
“People expect students to say, ‘I’m not going to do drugs now because I might be tested tomorrow,’ but that’s just not how kids and teenagers think,” Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and principal investigator for the study, said in a news release. “What seems to be happening is that students who’ve been tested start to realize what a big deal it is, and stay away from drugs in the future.”
Nowadays, a growing number of high schools are implementing random drug testing for students involved in sports and other extra-curricular activities in the hope of fighting substance abuse in the campus. Although research on the effectiveness of such policy has been mixed, many school officials believe it would be effective in keeping children drug-free.
Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, explained that the results of the latest survey “show that student drug testing changes the environment of the school community and show they serve as an effective prevention strategy for the abuse of drugs and alcohol in their future.”
St. Joseph’s Prep school is taking every measure to ensure its students are protected from substance abuse. Its most recent move is to subject students to a random hair drug test.
According to school officials, the new policy is not punitive in nature but to help students avoid drug use and the dangers associated with it. Beginning March, the school will randomly drug test 20 students a month and those who fail the drug test for the first time will receive counseling.
“We’ve been very transparent with what we’re doing – we want them to be successful, we want them to know we care, we want them to know that what we’re doing is what we feel is in their best interest,” Bill Gillespie, the school’s director of counseling, told CBS Philly.
While some students think the new policy is transgressing “some boundaries,” many parents have expressed their support for the program and the effort to help kids make the right choice in life.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a St. Joseph’s Prep alumnus, has likewise been supportive of the school’s drug testing program, saying some of today’s youth “may have challenges with drug issues,” and thus the need for proper guidance.
“Our hope is to educate them and treat them individually with respect,” says Principal Jason Zazyczny. “It’s a non-punitive policy, so we’re going to do everything possible before we would ever ask a student to withdraw.”
Students at North Fork School District may soon have to submit themselves for mandatory drug testing after the North Fork Board of Education approved during its October meeting the reinstatement of the policy.
According to Mount Vernon News, the district will follow the drug testing policy established in 2003. Students who are involved in any extra-curricular activity or those who drive vehicles on school grounds will be required to undergo random drug testing. The test will be performed periodically to give students a fair and equitable chance of being chosen each time selections are required.
The purpose of the program, which is expected to begin around December, is to ensure the health and safety of all students; undermine the effects of peer pressure; encourage students to participate in drug treatment; and to prevent the impact drugs and alcohol has on the learning environment.
It wasn’t clear yet whether the drug tests will be performed by a third party service provider or what kind of substances are going to be screened, but the board assures more details will be disseminated to parents through emails, coaches and parent advisories.
North Fork School District’s 2003 policy states: “The board realizes that a student’s participation in the district’s school sponsored extra-curricular program and student drivers, who use illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco, pose a threat to their own health and safety, as well as to that of other students.”
“The board also recognizes that the use of alcohol and illicit drugs by students is a national problem and, with the support from the U.S. Supreme Court, the North Fork Local School District will put a program of deterrence and intervention into effect as a pro-active approach to a truly safe and drug-free school.”