Drug testing at schools should be compulsury?
Drug testing of secondary school students has recently become the subject of increased public debate, after a number of high profile independent schools have announced that they are examining proposals to introduce the tests.
Regardless of the schools’ motivations, it is clear that drug testing raises a number of complex issues.
Leaving school prematurely reduces a young person’s future life opportunities and intensifies the risk of problematic behaviours, including excessive drug use.
(When schools identify illegal drug use by students they rrespond with a variety of disciplinary and welfare-oriented measures, including warnings, notification of parents, notification of police, education programs and counselling.)
It is intrusive, infringes on the individual’s right to privacy, and raises a host of legal, technical and ethical matters that are not resolved. It may be discriminatory, inasmuch as it places an obligation on young people that does not apply to adults; It has been criticised because it assumes a lack of trust between school staff and students, and iit may reinforce a sense of suspicion and mistrust;
As urine analysis is the preferred method of testing, and the collection of samples must be closely monitored, the process may cause the subject severe shame and embarrassment.
If students are aattending school on Monday mornings ‘hungover’ from marijuana use it should be evident from their physical appearance or demeanour. Schools already have procedures for responding to students who are unwell, distracted, or unable to concentrate, whatever the reason.
Cannabis can be detected in urine for up to three weeks after use, so a positive test will not show that the subject used it, or was affected by it, . It is likely that some positive results will reflect the young person’s social life and their education may be disrupted or terminated for behaviour that is unrelated to their attendance or performance at school.
If drug testing ‘captures’ social use and makes problematic what is now unproblematic, the harms caused by drug use mmay be increased.
The existence of drug testing may lead some vulnerable young people to switch to more exotic drugs they believe are less likely to be tested for or identified, or to use other chemicals as masking agents to evade detection.
Another potential problem is the results of drug testing are not necessarily reliable. Despite careful testing and analytical procedures, false negative and false positive results are possible. False negative results, can be enhanced by the subject ingesting diuretics and fflushing their system with high dosages of water. False positive results can occur when the subject has recently ingested over-the-counter and prescribed medicines, and even herbal teas. A false positive test may have the most extreme consequences for an innocent student.
Screenings are not 100 percent accurate, so every positive screen should be followed by a laboratory-based confirming test. Before going ahead with tests, schools should also have a good idea of precisely what drugs their students are using. Testing for just one set of illegal drugs when others pose an equal or greater threat would do little to address a school’s drug problem.
The results should not be shared with anyone else, not even teachers. (generally the cost is between $10 and $30 per test, with hair testing somewhat higher)
does not detect all drugs used by young people.(“club drugs’).
although other urine tests can determine use of these drugs (with the purpose of “getting high.”)
ü Most justice systems hold to the notion of innocence until proven guilty.
Nothing justifies the sacrifice of human rights for innocent people.
ü Innocent students do have something to fear – the violation of privacy and loss of dignity caused by a drug test.
ü The idea of prevention goes tto the root of the drug problem; other methods of deterrence are less invasive, such as encouraging extra-curricular activities, fostering better parental relations, tackling poverty and safety and so on.
ü Teenagers, especially drug-taking teenagers, are attracted by rebellion and the chance of beating the system. Draconian, Big Brother-style tactics of random drug testing will only provoke resentment and encourage students to break the law. Peer pressure is increased as they unite against school authorities.
ü Drug users will only turn to drugs that are more difficult to test, such as ‘designer’ drugs, or use masking agents be