Drug Testing for Children; Is this a good idea?
Schools in Crawford County, Ohio, have implemented a random drug test policy for students involved in sports and extra-curricular activities. Five of the six districts in the County now permit the random testing. Surprisingly, many students have joined administrators and teachers in supporting the effort. Officials from the sixth district say the issue requires further consideration before it can be adopted, but they are not totally opposed to the choice.
The U.S. Supreme Court has confirmed the legality of student drug testing in public schools in two separate split decisions. In each case, the majority has agreed students give up certain rights each time they enter a school premises. Bucyrus City Schools was first in the Crawford County area to take advantage of this legislation to implement random testing for students. Some argue that drug testing actually deters drug use, and this is reason enough to implement it in pubic schools. However, a well-known 2007 study, SATURN (Student Athlete Testing Using Random Notification) was inconclusive in its findings regarding whether random testing actually deters use. The report shows students adopt a negative attitude toward the testing itself but not necessarily to drug use as a practice. SATURN does not speak positively regarding the option to pursue voluntary testing. Generally, students underreport drug use in this option.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated it does not feel adolescents should be tested with consent. They felt testing is not a sufficient deterrent. Instead, according to statements from the AAP, random drug testing reduces the level of trust and appreciations students have for both parents and school officials. Supporters of the policy say it gives students an easy way to turn down peer pressure. Further, they believe it will reduce damage due to drunken driving in teens. These supporters feel giving up some personal liberties in order to provide more safety on the roadway and off the roadway is well worth it.
Some advocates for the rights of young people note how quickly the voting population gives up the rights of those who cannot vote. They question whether parents would also be willing to undergo random testing. If they would not be, the advocates argue they should not be so eager to volunteer their children as willing participants.