Outside View: Pull The Plug on Drug Tests 

  Outside View: Pull The Plug on Drug Tests 

Posted by CN Staff on March 20, 2004 at 11:53:30 PT
By Paul Armentano 
Source: United Press International 

Washington -- While silver bullets are called for when battling fictitious werewolves, they offer little help confronting real world issues like adolescent drug use. Nevertheless, the National Drug Control Strategy unveiled by the Bush administration earlier this month contains numerous "silver bullets," the most prominent among them a proposal to spend $25 million to establish random drug testing for high school students. Despite the administration's claim that mandatory drug testing curbs adolescent drug use, a recent federal study of 76,000 students by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research paints a far different picture.
According to the study's findings, published in the Journal of School Health, there is no difference in the level of illegal drug use between students in schools that test for drugs and those in schools that do not."Drug testing of students in schools does not deter use," states a University of Michigan news release summarizing the findings of the four-year study, the first national, large-scale survey ever to assess student drug testing. "At each grade level studied -- 8, 10, and 12 -- the investigators found virtually identical rates of drug use in schools that have drug testing and the schools that do not."The study's authors concluded, "The results suggest that drug testing in schools may not provide the panacea for reducing student drug use that some (including some on the Supreme Court) had hoped."Despite this poor performance, approximately 20 percent of U.S. secondary schools carry out some form of drug testing among their student populations. If the Bush administration has its way, this percentage will rise dramatically in coming years. But Congress and school administrators would be better advised to abandon the policy all together.Suspicionless student drug testing is a humiliating, invasive practice that runs contrary the principles of due process. It compels teens to submit evidence against themselves and to forfeit their privacy rights as a necessary requirement for attending school. Rather than presuming our school children innocent of illicit activity -- as statistically, the overwhelming majority of them are -- until proven guilty, this policy presumes them guilty until they prove themselves innocent. Is this truly the message the Bush administration wishes to send to America's young people?There is also concern that suspending students who test positive for drugs from attending class and/or extracurricular activities -- as most school drug testing policies mandate -- may cause students undue, long-term harm. According to Dr. Howard Taras, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on School Health: "(Drug) screening may decrease involvement in extracurricular activities among students who regularly use or have once used drugs. Without such engagement in healthy activities, adolescents are more likely to drop out of school, become pregnant, join gangs, pursue substance abuse and engage in other risky behaviors."Finally, student drug testing does not come cheap. School officials in Dublin, Ohio, recently jettisoned a $35,000 per year drug testing program because it proved to be anything but cost-efficient. Of the 1,473 students tested, only 11 tested positive for illegal drugs. That's a cost of $3,200 per positive student -- hardly the sort of price tag that can be justified in an era of local and federal fiscal belt-tightening.Though random student drug testing may sound like a "silver bullet" in the administration's campaign to discourage adolescent drug use, it opens a "Pandora's Box" of practical, ethical and financial questions. Students should not be taught that they must abandon their constitutional liberties at the school door or that they must submit to an invasion of their privacy because some leaders in Washington are willing to write off an entire generation of students as potential criminals in their overzealous "war" on drugs.Paul Armentano is a senior policy analyst for the NORML Foundation in Washington.United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.NORML Criticizes Drug Czar's Student Drug Testing Tour: United Press InternationalAuthor: Paul ArmentanoPublished: March 20, 2004Copyright 2004 United Press InternationalContact: tips upi.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Site:NORML Testing, Disappointing Results on Drug Testing is Today Drug Testing Archives

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Comment #8 posted by E_Johnson on March 21, 2004 at 08:42:40 PT
Dehumanization is how we got here
When you equate a human being with an object -- like a piece of excrement -- that is a way of giving yourself permission to treat the person like he or she is not human.That's basically how we got here. By people calling us pieces of excrement. So we could be kidnapped at gunpoint and locked in a cage and our human reactions to that would not be a problem for society. Because you don't care about how your excrement feels when you flush it down the toilet.I wouldn't do that to Bush even though he wants very badly to do it to me.
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Comment #7 posted by goneposthole on March 21, 2004 at 06:43:10 PT
Just because they tell you it's freedom
Doesn't mean it is."Suspicionless student drug testing is a humiliating, invasive practice that runs contrary the principles of due process."It is also known as 'slavery'. Forced to do something from an outside, imposing will.Eventually, you will 'check in' your rights at every door.If it ain't freedom, what else is it but slavery?The 'wolf at the door' happens to be the US gubmint. There must be something better for them to do. 
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Comment #6 posted by jose melendez on March 21, 2004 at 06:10:26 PT
how about this slogan?
Test cows - Teach kidsAny questions?
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Comment #5 posted by jose melendez on March 21, 2004 at 06:04:32 PT
fabric of our Constitution
" . . . at the dawn of a new century, we realize fully well that we have a lot of work to do to make sure that no one is left behind, and we have to begin with core labor rights. We have seen what happens when we do not have a strong labor movement. I always have believed, well let me put it this way, I think the United States of America has been and is the greatest nation in the history of the earth for a lot of reasons, mainly because of our people and because of the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution. Our founders were geniuses, and I think, I think God's hand was on the United States of America when it was founded and is today. That's my belief. You may look at it a different way, but that's my belief. [applause]. One of the secrets for how we have endured and thrived all this time is that in the fabric of our Constitution has been a system called checks and balances, so that there's no unhealthy concentration of power in any one particular part of the government, and that's preserved freedom. "
Vice President Al Gore: May 23, 1999
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 20, 2004 at 21:47:45 PT
I got it fixed! No problem.
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Comment #3 posted by Virgil on March 20, 2004 at 21:34:05 PT

The test of insincerity
They will not test the students for illegal use of tobacco, an addictive and dangerous multitude of drugs and chemicals.
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Comment #2 posted by u2desire on March 20, 2004 at 21:18:59 PT:

damn typos
can someone at Cnews correct my sp of Constitution?Thanks
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Comment #1 posted by u2desire on March 20, 2004 at 21:16:39 PT:

Why don't we just spit on and burn the Constitution
well we are at it? I am not a United States citizen but if I were I would be outraged and so should every parent across the United States. This is WRONG, DAMN WRONG!
If this is allowed to continue than the United States Constitution no longer has any validity and is not worth the hemp it was written on!George W Bush you ought to be ashamed of yourself you arrogent piece of crap. Abviously serving in the Airforce did not instill in you the values that citizen hold so dear and are willing go to war over and die for!
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