An Unjustified Test

  An Unjustified Test

Posted by CN Staff on November 12, 2002 at 08:09:49 PT
Source: Globe and Mail  

No doubt Garden Valley Collegiate, in Winkler, Man., has good intentions in wanting to administer random drug and alcohol tests to its student athletes. The school, which would be the first in Canada to adopt such a policy, likens it to random roadside breathalyzer tests. But where is the carnage on the sports fields that would justify this massive intrusion on personal privacy?Illegal drug use among youths and adults is a serious problem. The damage is obvious in shattered lives, ruined health and crime. Athletes who are feeling no pain may put themselves at risk on the playing field or hockey rink.
Against that background, civil liberties, and the protection from arbitrary searches, are harder to argue for. When a liberty is weakened, the damage is not immediately visible, and may never be.Nonetheless, the right to privacy is the core of all freedoms; without privacy there can be no individuality. And the privacy of the body is the core of the privacy right.More than good intentions are needed when limiting a core right. There must be evidence that the drug testing is not arbitrary, that its benefits will outweigh its drawbacks and that the problem is so serious it requires such an extreme intrusion. On all those grounds, random drug testing of high-school athletes fails to measure up.Why student athletes, as opposed to all students or, as in some U.S. jurisdictions, anyone involved in extracurricular activities, such as members of the marching band or the chess club? Is there any evidence athletes have higher drug use than the norm? (The Winkler school has collected data on drug use but would not share it with The Globe and Mail.) Is there evidence athletes are more prone to using drugs than, say, their teachers? Perhaps the teachers should be tested, since it could be argued that teachers who are inebriated or high are a menace to their students.The school argues that safety and performance are the key issues. But if performance were truly key, all students would have to be tested, since their academic performance would surely suffer from drug use, and it's more important than athletic performance.Safety? The drug and alcohol tests will not be held at game time. They will provide no evidence of whether someone is using narcotics during a game. In any event, the risk seems more theoretical than real. The school has no sense of how big a problem injuries among substance-using athletes has been.The benefits, as the school sees them, would be to encourage students to reject drugs, and to determine who is using them and place them in a counselling program. One drawback is that any students who do use drugs may simply stop coming out for school teams. Another is that a young, impressionable group is being sent a message that authorities see nothing wrong with invading their privacy rights.A study last year by the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba found that about 6 per cent of high-school students reported having moderate or serious problems with alcohol. Thirty-eight per cent reported using cannabis in the previous year; no other drug was used by more than 5 per cent. This is hardly the stuff of an epidemic.The school, which has asked Manitoba's Ombudsman to approve its draft policy, should think again. If it does not, the Ombudsman should nix the idea. Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)Published: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 – Print Edition, Page A22Copyright: 2002 The Globe and Mail CompanyContact: letters globeandmail.caWebsite: Drug Testing Archives

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Comment #11 posted by VitaminT on November 15, 2002 at 09:47:21 PT

so now it's health testing?
give me a break! It's drug testing - more specifically it's Cannabis testing. What the industry is doing is lobbying to create a culture of acceptance for their products and other invasions of privacy which they plan to develop. Education in this country is compulsory - add to it the idea that the school can compel you to give up a sample - a part of your body or some fluid therefrom and what you have is an Orwellian scenario and the seeds of revolution. Remember Ashcroft is quickly realizing his police-state vision for America so don't dismiss the thought out of hand.Kids love it? Brainwashed kids maybe. I don't want my kid to smoke pot, I acknowledge that doing so could hinder his development in some areas at his age, but I'll take responsibility for his rearing! I don't need help from big brother of from Grandad!"And as to the effectiveness of drug testing; hair testing not only tells what drugs were used but it also tells when because the hair keeps a record of drug use like the rings of a tree tell its age and what the weather was like that year. And there are lots of other tests like oral swabs, sweat patches, eye reaction instruments, etc. that are very accurate indicators of drug use."Or perhaps we could just implant computer chips in every student's neck and ask the government to monitor their activities continuously. It sure would make parenting less complicated - no need for developing those time-consuming and often troublesome relationships founded on trust. And kids would never have to be troubled by the confusing intracacies of free will. They can learn to be good little glassy eyed drones in a perfect "drug-free" environment. . . . Bobby, I downloaded your activity report today. What did I tell you about listening to punk rock! You KNOW that isn't approved and if get even one report that you smoked Marijuana, I'll take you to the re-education camp myself if the police come and drag you away first!Once our technology is sufficiently advanced, perhaps we could learn to identify those who are genetically predisposed to being drug users then we could just put them in prison at birth.

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Comment #10 posted by FoM on November 14, 2002 at 22:21:51 PT

Calling people who are commenting a druggie isn't acceptable on this web site. Having different opinions and talking about them are fine. 
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Comment #9 posted by Grandad on November 14, 2002 at 22:08:24 PT

Student Drug Testing is Here to Stay- and Growing
To answer some doubts by commentors, over a thousand school districts are already drug testing, and since the new Supreme Court ruling it is growing by leaps and bounds all across the nation. So get used to it. It's here to stay. Kids love it and so do teachers and parents. In one school that has tested all kids and teachers, throughout three school terms only 5 kids tested positive and there were no repeats.During congressional testimony about one drug testing school a student testified that besides the greater peace and order at school the other thing he noticed was that the local drug pushers quit hanging around the school entrances at the end of the school day- no customers, no business. BTW someone mentioned the profits of companies that furnish the drug testing. Well the drug pushers and traffickers ain't doing their dirty deeds for free. In fact the illegal drug industry is a $600 billion industry that uses its profits to corrupt public officials so it can sell its dangerous products to vulnerable kids who they expect will go on to become regular customers.And as to the effectiveness of drug testing; hair testing not only tells what drugs were used but it also tells when because the hair keeps a record of drug use like the rings of a tree tell its age and what the weather was like that year. And there are lots of other tests like oral swabs, sweat patches, eye reaction instruments, etc. that are very accurate indicators of drug use.But testing and treating kids for dangerous drug use is no different than testing and treating kids for lots of other health conditions, like head lice, TB, etc. The bottom line is IT AIN'T ILLEGAL OR UNFAIR TO PROTECT KIDS BY HEALTH TESTING! PERIOD! So we're going to keep on doing it regardless of what some druggies think!
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Comment #8 posted by VitaminT on November 14, 2002 at 10:30:15 PT

Sure Student Drug Testing is Effective
it's very effective at further marginalizing the student who is most at risk - the one most likely to benefit from regular extracurricular activities. Good job!BTW if a kid wants to smoke crack on Saturday night your drug test is worthless on monday morning - of course THAT kid is facing a crisis 1000 times more dangerous than the one that burns a joint with his buds after the big game. But who gets treatment? The pot smoker who really doesn't need anything more than a good ass whoopin' from his old man.So who is helped by drug testing? Drug testing corporations and their investors (A.K.A. Scam Artists - in my book)Grandad,
Your figure of almost 20,000 drug induced deaths among youth per year is a fiction. In 1990 for the entire U.S. population there were fewer than 9,500 deaths. By 1997 that figure had ramped up dramatically to 16,000! How much more drug war can we take?
These are ONDCP figures provided by Barry McCzar for a CBS interview on April 13, 2000 - of course everything a Drug Czar says is suspect given the heaps of lies they spew out, but it's pretty hard to screw up a body count assuming you know how to count.
More than 95% of the above figures are accounted for by Heroin and Cocaine, both of these are quickly eliminated from the system and undetectable after a day or so. The numbers also don't say anything about the BigFoot of killer drugs for which schools show no interest in testing.I ran across the following in that same McCzar interview:"In 1988 the average first-time heroin user was 27 years old. By 1997 the average age had dropped to 17."In the Netherlands the opposite trend is true. Heroin addicts there have an average age of over 35 and rising. The figure is probably higher since the one I've given is several years old by now.The point is that where Cannabis is legally available, young people don't take an interest in Heroin - If that doesn't surprise you try this: Cannabis use among youth in the Netherlands is about 1/2 of the comparable figure for American Kids!We don't need drug testing. We don't need to convert our teachers to piss police. What we need is some old fashioned COMMON SENSE and NO MORE DRUG WAR!

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Comment #7 posted by krutch on November 14, 2002 at 08:06:33 PT:

The policy is a violation of the Constitution
No matter what the Nazi supreme court says, it violates the student's right to privacy. It assumes the student guilty without evidence. Athletics are not a privilege. My taxes pay for them, so my kid has a right to participate without peeing in a cup first. By the way, pot does not kill anybody. The statistic that 38% of secondary school children have tried pot is not that disturbing. This dos not mean that 38% of children are drug addicts. It means they tried it. Relatively few children actually die from drug addiction. Nobody dies from "pot addiction". You are an alarmist. You obviously know little about the substances you so deplore.Children in athletics who wish to do drugs will now turn to harder drugs that leave the body faster. Few children who have smoked pot are going to be dumb enough to pee in a cup and show us. They will avoid the test by not participating. The policy alienates the children it trys to save. It is that simple.At best this policy bargains away our rights in an attempt to save a few lives. At worst it is a profit making scheme for companies who manufacture and process the drug tests. Here is an analogous policy for your consumption:Being molested has damaged many children. All adults who have contact with children should be forced to take psychological tests to prove they are not child molesters. These tests should include being questioned by a therapist, and perhaps a lie detector test. The need to protect the children outweighs the adults right to privacy.Socialists like this policy. Those of us who understand freedom can see that it is wrong. The rights imparted to us by the Constitution are more important than any individual, and are not to be suspended at the goverment's convenience. I implore everybody to fight this socialist nonsense. Granddad and his ilk are bargaining away our rights for safety.
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Comment #6 posted by Grandad on November 13, 2002 at 20:11:10 PT

U. S. Student Drug Testing is Legal and Effective
Some commentors in this thread seem to think testing kids for harmful substances is somehow wrong. But thousands of parents who have lost kids to drugs say if their kid had been drug tested they might still be alive today.The U. S. Supreme Court has approved student drug testing for athletes and kids in extracurricular activities and the U. S. Congress and the Administration have provided funding for it in their No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Our Department of Educaton and the Drug Czar's office promote its use by local school districts. Currently, over 1000 U. S. school districts have adopted its use (one had only 5 positives in three years, with no repeats). All under the rationale that drugs are dangerous to kids and should be detected and eliminated from schools by school drug testing and treatment programs. Kids testing positive are only treated, not punished. Even the Washington Post, long an opponent of student drug testing, has now endorsed the concept in their editorial of July 1, 2002, as "...a minimal privacy invasion for the limited purpose of identifying children who need help..."I hope for the sake of both America's and Canada's drug-endangered kids, that you who curently oppose this humanitarian child-protection program will soon see its benefits. For the child whose life is saved might be your own.
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Comment #5 posted by krutch on November 13, 2002 at 13:16:42 PT:

Hey Granddad
Those who give up their permanent liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
-Ben FranklinDrug testing student athletes does nothing to cure the epidemic that you perceive. It only assures that no student who smoked MJ in the last month will try out for athletics. This is a sin. Perhaps the student who is using drugs would benefit from participating in a sport. Perhaps this would help the student not do drugs. Perhaps a student who likes to get high will turn to harder drugs instead of pot. These leave the body more quickly. You won't get caught for cocaine of heroin if you stop using a few days before the test.Also the idea of innocent until proven guilty is raped by these tests. But anti's like you don't give a damn about these American ideas. You want everybody to be drug free no matter what the price, so wrap yourself in the flag while you burn the Constitution. The legacy of your ilk will haunt our children forever.
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Comment #4 posted by Naaps on November 12, 2002 at 23:43:14 PT

Excellent Globe & Mail Editorial!
It would be a waste of money and an appalling degradation of rights for the school to instigate random drug testing of its student athletes. I predict the Ombudsman will nix the idea.In Canada, the courts have ruled that drug testing employees infringes on individual rights. Only a few specific occupations allow some testing, usually these are in the transport industry. For police, judges, teachers, construction workers, or any other profession, there’s no drug testing. So, why should it be that students at a school should have to be tested? The idea stinks of overbearing, officious, pretentious school officials lording over students.The 38% of students who claim to have used cannabis in the last year is a plausible number and consistent with other areas of Canada. I would speculate that, in fact, even more students have used than will admit it. The Senate Committee report notes approximately a million Canadian youths aged 12-17, have used cannabis in the last 12 months.

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Comment #3 posted by freedom fighter on November 12, 2002 at 16:10:36 PT

Gee, Grandpa!!
Why are you using this as an excuse to put human being in a cage for using a substance you did'nt like? Pardon me for getting personal, WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL DRUG USE IS LIKE?ff
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Comment #2 posted by Grandad on November 12, 2002 at 12:08:31 PT

Student Drug Testing
"A study last year by the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba found that about 6 per cent of high-school students reported having moderate or serious problems with alcohol. Thirty-eight per cent reported using cannabis in the previous year; no other drug was used by more than 5 per cent. This is hardly the stuff of an epidemic."That statement is a classic example of widespread denial that student drug abuse is a major problem. The cited figures are similar to those from American schools where nearly one-third of secondary schoolchildren are regular users of illegal drugs endangering themselves and their classmates and leading to almost 20,000 overdose deaths a year. And precipitating the agonizing torment of parents who have suffered under a third of a century of this family-destroying cruel reality.To write that "This is hardly the stuff of an epidemic." in the face of the massive disasterous youth drug pandemic sweeping the world is so irrational that it appears to have come from a mind blinded to reality. Possibly from personal drug use?

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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo MD on November 12, 2002 at 08:20:44 PT:

Different Views
Too bad that sanity does not reign on this side of the border. Newly elected Senator Liddy Dole would like to enforce a national statute to urine test all kids before they get a driver's license. They will use the usual wedge to beat the states into submission: the threat of withdrawal of federal subsidies. The system is unjust and corrupt.
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