Random Drug Testing is not the answer

Jonathon Cook, Opinion Writer

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    “Since a 2002 Supreme Court ruling that school drug tests are permissible (as long as the tests don’t curtail a student’s right to academic instruction), more and more schools have chosen to implement them. Today, more than 1,000 middle and high schools across the country require students to submit to random drug testing as a prerequisite for participating in extracurricular activities. It is estimated that 18-20% of school districts conduct some form of drug testing” (Ballaro and Finely). Kingsway became one of these schools this school year.   

Some people believe that there should be no more drug testing allowed at Kingsway or it should be altered, for multiple reasons. To begin, studies have shown that even though the drug tests scare students who obtain drugs, it does not prevent them from taking the drugs.  A Washington Post article cited several studies.

  • 2013 study looked at 14 years of data on student drug use and found that school drug testing was associated with “moderately lower marijuana use,” but increased use of other, more dangerous illicit drugs.
  • 2014 study concluded that drug testing was “was not associated with changes in substance use.”
  • 2013 study comparing drug use rates among schools with and without drug testing programs found some short-term deterrent effect among students who were tested, but no effects among students who weren’t tested, and no long-term effects on either drug use or intention to use drugs in the future ( Ingraham).

Although they have a fear of getting caught, some students still take the risk. Addiction is insanely hard to break, and it would take more than the chance of being drug tested to break the addiction.

Additionally, there is a chance that some drug users will not even have to take the test because choosing the students is completely random.  In the end, there are going to be a percentage of students that take drugs, but will never have to take the test. 

Furthermore, some people believe that the school does not have the right to drug test students. Although it is legal and many schools participate in it, some people believe it is the parent’s decision to drug test their child. Although it can be said that the parents do give full permission by signing the waiver, they have no choice when it comes to athletic and club opportunities they want their children to have. If they want their child to have the opportunities to drive to school, participate in sports, or participate in clubs, then they must sign the waiver. If a parent wants their child to be on the list available for drug testing then it should just be an option. 

In addition, it has been shown that drug testing can ruin the relationships between the schools and students. According to one source, “testing creates an “us vs. them” mentality between students and school personnel. Instead of being on the same team, students are clearly made to feel like criminals”(Pearson).  Some kids find the test humiliating and unfair, so they dislike their schools and administrators for allowing and supporting it.

Lastly, it is unfair that this is only open to kids who participate in clubs and sports, and kids who drive to school. There may be kids who do not do these activities, yet they take drugs and won’t get caught. Furthermore, some students may be discouraged from participating in activities. Some research suggests,” Anxiety over mandatory drug testing discourages some students from participating in extracurricular activities, it may well deprive those students of the very activities that have the strongest deterrent effect in preventing substance abuse” (Ballaro, Finley).

All in all,  many signs point to the fact that there should not be randomized drug testing.  Administrators should, however,  continue to test any students who demonstrate the behavior of being under the influence in school as they have done in years past. They should also definitely keep the new Student Assitance Coordinator who is able to offer counseling and assistance to students who do use drugs.

Works Cited

Ballaro, Beverly and Laura Finley. “Point: Just Say No to Mandatory Drug Testing in Schools.” Points of View: Mandatory Drug Testing, Jan. 2015, p. 2. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pwh&AN=26619616&site=pov-live.

Ingraham, Christopher. “School Drug Tests: Costly, Ineffective, and More Common than You Think.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 27 Apr. 2015, www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/04/27/schools-drug-tests-costly-ineffective-and-more-common-than-you-think/?utm_term=.0665e43de49c.