cannabisnews.com: Pull The Plug on Mandatory Student Drug Testing





Pull The Plug on Mandatory Student Drug Testing
Posted by CN Staff on April 05, 2004 at 10:02:55 PT
Guest Column By Paul Armentano
Source: Press Journal 
Legislation under consideration by the Florida Legislature requiring middle- and high-school students to undergo random drug testing is no "silver bullet" in the battle against teen drug use. Despite the proponents' claims 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.
The study, published in the Journal of School Health, found there was no difference in the level of illegal drug use between students in schools that test for drugs and those in schools that do not. Despite this poor performance, the Florida Legislature is poised to mandate random drug testing for all students participating in extracurricular activities. Lawmakers 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. (Currently, some Florida schools, such as Indian River Charter High School, conduct random drug screenings, which are authorized by the contract parents sign as a condition of their children's enrollment at those campuses.) 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 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 participating in extracurricular activities 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 annual drug-testing program because it proved to be anything but cost-efficient. Of the 1,473 students tested, 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 merely blows open 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, nor that they must drop out because their elected officials are willing to write off an entire generation of students as potential criminals in an overzealous drug fight. Paul Armentano is the senior policy analyst for the NORML Foundation in Washington, D.C. Son of Dom and Rose Armentano of Vero Beach, his writing has appeared in more than 200 newspapers, books and magazines. He can be contacted via e-mail at: paul norml.orgNewshawk: Paul ArmentanoSource: Press Journal (FL)Author: Paul ArmentanoPublished: April 3, 2004Copyright: 2004 The E.W. Scripps Co.Contact: letters veropress.comWebsite: http://www.pressjournal.com/Related Articles & Web Site:NORMLhttp://www.norml.org/Outside View: Pull The Plug on Drug Tests http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread18525.shtmlRandom Testing, Disappointing Results http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread18520.shtmlNo 'Silver Bullet' - Marsha Rosenbaum http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread18247.shtml
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Comment #3 posted by afterburner on April 06, 2004 at 06:26:41 PT:
E_J, Speaking of Sexual Abuse: Check It Out
'Loo searches' facing setback
Apr. 6, 2004. 06:37 AM [Toronto Star]"It's known as the 'super loo.' Somewhere inside Pearson International Airport is a special lavatory where suspected drug smugglers are taken to excrete narcotics while customs officers watch. But the future of criminal prosecutions based on 'loo searches' may be in question, Tracey Tyler reports.  [Full Story]" http://tinyurl.com/2ec3With failure rates of 75% or more, this procedure is coming under fire:"The heart of defence lawyer David Bayliss's argument was an internal report showing that, for every person found carrying drugs after being sent to the super loo, four innocent people are needlessly subjected to the degrading searches, which can last hours and  in some cases  days."
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Comment #2 posted by potpal on April 05, 2004 at 11:55:16 PT
Yes it is...
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 the message the Bush administration wishes to send to America's young people?
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on April 05, 2004 at 10:11:03 PT
Drug war features a lot of sexual abuse
If you add up all the strip searching and intense urinary supervision and jailhouse rape and prison rape -- drug prohibition is like a sexual abuse pogrom being waged by society, to subject the most vulnerable people to the greatest amount of private physical and mental humiliation socially and legally possible.
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