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Mandatory Drug-Testing in Schools
In 2003, Savana Redding, a thirteen year old girl, was suspected of having drugs in school. Two female school employees checked her after she was forced to strip. How did this affect Savana? Well she was traumatized, to say the least, and switched schools. She also developed stomach ulcers, from this traumatic experience. But no one actually had valid reasons to suspect her. She was a good kid, and worked hard in school, and she was never involved with drugs. Six years later, Ms. Redding, along with her mother, filed a lawsuit against the school administration. Even after six years, Savana has clearly not fully moved on.
Now this is an extreme case, but its not so far off from what may be occurring in schools.
In recent years, the question of drug testing in the American school system has grown into an explosive controversy.
Many think random screenings will discourage drug abuse, the students can easily find ways to avoid tests/ pretend to be drug-free. If random drug searches are allowed, this will open many opportunities for other constant surveillance, and thus interfere with their freedoms as citizens.
Many legislators and school administrators don’t want to enforce random drug testing because it infringes upon the individuals right of innocence, as well as the right to be free from difficult and unwarranted testing.
If students are interested in joining an extra-curricular activity, they must take a drug-test. Currently random drug-testing on students is unconstitutional, and should remain so, since school administrations have no right to go into students' lockers and rummage through. Even if the student is completely clean, and wants to join a team, they must first take a drug-test. Isn’t that going a little far?
Also, a drug-free environment should be the school's job, and Drug-free students should be a parent's job. Parents feel that it’s their job to teach kids not to take drugs, and it’s the school’s job to keep school grounds completely drug-free. Both aspects are very important, and together they can really eliminate drug-abuse among students and teenagers.
The drug-tests are very costly for schools. In 2007, the Bush Administration doubled their budget for drug-testing equipment in schools; totaling $15 million. Doubling the budget didn’t bring much proven improvements, so the money is going to waste. But where is this magical fifteen-million dollars coming from? The money is coming from taxes, and teacher’s salaries. They should spend this money on better educational programs, instead of making middle/high-school students give urine samples. They could also teach parents how they can detect drug-use from their kids, without having to perform such personal tests. They should be teaching students, in a conducive manner that will actually prevent drug-abuse, instead of demanding that every student can only play a sport if they take the test.
In addition, there is a big risk of harming the parent-child and school-child relationships by creating an environment of resentment, distrust, and suspicion. Students will feel their trust and honesty with teachers/school administration has completely disappeared. If students are subjected to such private tests, they may feel that their personal lives are being searched through, and messed around with.
Performing these tests on students is much harder than people think. It’s not just a “positive, come with me kid”, or “negative, go back to class”. Medical professionals will randomly draw out a name from the database, and come to the campus the day of the testing. The student is taken out of class, and goes to the nurse to give a urine sample. The student, parents and school officials are notified the results. But that’s only half the work. If the test comes out positive then the student will be sent for counseling, and will be immediately removed from any extra-curricular activities, if involved in any. But the counseling doesn’t have any proven effects on teens. And generally, teens don’t respond well to school guidance counselors, since they could go to some sessions and pretend to improve.
And even with tests like these, they are often inaccurate. Drug tests will only show results for specific kinds of more-common drugs, leaving other narcotic options available to students without consequence. Also, if the student didn’t take drugs for 48-72 hours, the test will likely come out drug-free. It’s also pretty simple to avoid being detected; if a student drinks enough water before taking the test, the drug will be very diluted in the sample, that it’ll be below detection level. One nurse recalled many mistakes done in the lab, when they were testing the samples. This just come to show how tests aren’t accurate.
There was a study done in 2005, where high school students were asked how they’d feel if they were tested for drugs before signing up for any extra-curricular. They were very hesitant, but they had less apprehension when it was suggested that all students, administrators, teachers, coaches had to undergo drug testing. These observations clearly show that majority of students wouldn’t want to take drug-testing, not because they feared they’d be suspected, rather the lack of privacy.
Many parents feel so disturbed by the mandatory drug-testing that they even stated they’d pull their kids out of schools, if it would be performed.
Rather than imposing random and mandatory drug testing on its youth, the American
government should be allocating more resources towards improved drug education, with better tactics.
It doesn’t take much to dissuade an impressionable teenager to stop buying drugs from friends behind the local grocery store.
Perhaps all that’s needed are some background facts:
Like the serious health effects, fatal at times, which come with drugs, and the millions who die every year due to substance abuse.
Or maybe the bloody Mexican drug war which is being supported by buying those very drugs, the 30,000 people who have died in this one war alone.
But kids don’t know any of this.
And it’s not enough to simply tell them.
You have to show them.
Instead of taking a jar of a student’s urine (which, for all you know, may very well be someone else’s sample), make the consequences of drugs a reality.
Let American youth know that drug abuse doesn’t simply endanger their personal futures-- but it endangers the future of an entire nation.