Thursday, May 24, 2007
From latimes.com: Concerned with high rates of adolescent substance abuse, hundreds of middle schools and high schools nationwide have quietly begun testing some or all students for drugs — to the dismay of some health and addiction experts.
Although less than 5% of all high schools have such programs, testing is now common in schools throughout Texas, Florida, Kentucky and parts of California. In Southern California, many private high schools have implemented drug testing, as have several public school districts in Orange County and San Diego. Nationwide, as many as 1,000 schools have established programs, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The number of schools administering drug tests is expected to grow. Federal funding for school drug testing increased 400% between 2003 and 2006. The Bush administration spent $8.6 million on such programs last year and has requested $17.9 million for fiscal year 2008.
"This is the best new idea to reduce the onset of drug use," says Dr. Robert L. DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health, a nonprofit drug policy organization that has studied school testing. "About half of high school seniors have used an illicit drug by the time they graduate and about one-quarter are regular users by the time they graduate. Those figures are worrisome."
School-based drug testing gives kids a reason to say no, say DuPont and other proponents. The tests are meant to identify students who are using and guide them into counseling or treatment programs before they develop addictions.
But health officials, by and large, oppose school-based drug testing. NAADAC, the Assn. for Addiction Professionals, has released a statement critical of such programs. And in March, the American Academy of Pediatrics cautioned against random school-based drug testing until more research is completed. The two groups are among those who say testing is not reliable enough, violates trust between adults and teens and is not set up to deal effectively with students who have positive results.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]