CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The School Drug Testing Controversy

From 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]

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» "Do the Parenting For Me" Quote of the Day from A Stitch in Haste
"If he doesn't like testing, I really don't care. I think it's a wonderful tool. It creates the fear that they could be tested." --Robyn Tialavela, parent There are several sad takeaways in this [Read More]

Tracked on May 26, 2007 9:47:32 AM


Those of us who have pioneered random drug testing have learned some very valuable lessons about how to discuss the topic with school administrators, school boards, parents, and communities.

Posted by: Sunny dev | May 20, 2008 9:30:29 AM

The principal will be a prominent figure in random drug testing efforts as the school community looks for sensible, strong leadership. The issue of random drug-testing provides principals with a forum for confronting adolescent drug abuse head on, within the context of a nationally recognized epidemic. Read More about school drug testing.

Posted by: Arnol Trevor | May 20, 2008 9:35:30 AM

You may already know the physical warning signs, but it’s time to learn what paraphernalia is used to engage in drug-related activities and how to identify these items. Parents’ attentiveness is critical. By knowing what to look for, parents can continue to play an important role in the lives of their child.

Watch List for Parents

? Changes in friends
? Negative changes in schoolwork, missing school, or declining grades
? Increased secrecy about possessions or activities
? Use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors
? Subtle changes in conversations with friends, e.g. more secretive, using “coded”
? Change in clothing choices: new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use
? Increase in borrowing money

Posted by: john | May 20, 2008 9:38:55 AM

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