Can Peer Pressure Keep Students Off Drugs? 

Can Peer Pressure Keep Students Off Drugs? 
Posted by FoM on March 09, 2001 at 11:35:16 PT
By Patrik Jonsson, Special To The CSM
Source: Christian Science Monitor
Call it the scarlet letter - in reverse. A South Carolina high school is passing out gold stars to student athletes who agree to take drug tests - hoping to pressure others to "volunteer." "We didn't want this to be a punitive measure," says Principal Ron Cowden. "But there's nothing wrong with a little peer pressure." 
Controversies over mandatory testing have erupted from Lockney, Texas, to Veronia, Ore., as student testing, particularly of athletes, has become more common during the past decade. The debate frequently centers over whether the testing is a violation of students' rights and privacy.If anything, Dutch Fork officials say, they're taking a softer approach: Players have to fail the test three times to get kicked off a team. Meanwhile, counselors and coaches will meet with the student and parents to offer support. "If you don't participate, no benefits are withheld, but you're ridiculed and pressured - very clever," says Julie Underwood, general counsel for the National School Boards Association in Alexandria, Va. In fact, the trend across the county is toward voluntary, not mandatory, tests, experts say. That's happening as it's becoming clear to school officials that get-tough measures have done little to actually curb drug use by high-schoolers.On a larger scale, the scheme may signal the most unusual approach yet to the country's continuing search for a middle ground on how to deal with the combination of teens' curiosity and the broad and relatively easy availability of alcohol, marijuana, and LSD. In fact, despite 10 years of crackdowns on drugs and alcohol across the country, actual usage has changed little in America's 3,000 school districts. Half of Dutch Fork students reported smoking pot recently. It was time for a new tack, argues Bill Kimmrey, the burly, silver-haired coach of the Dutch Fork Foxes football team, who came up with the idea. "As a society, we single athletes out when they do something wrong," says Mr. Kimmrey."I wanted to reward them for doing something right." Not everyone agrees: But senior fullback Ray Martin says he, for one, won't be sewing the gold star to his soccer uniform. He objects to the idea of his alma mater snooping into his private business - and trying to shame him into agreeing to a test he says his parents don't believe he needs. "It's not that I do anything wrong," Ray says. "But this whole idea seems to stray from the educational mission of the school." Some say the town lends itself well to such a concept. Once a small farm community bracketed by the Broad and Saluda Rivers, Dutch Fork today is crawling with brick-and-wood complexes priced in the "low-200s." "About 95 percent of the kids that go here are upper-middle class," says senior Chris Carver, ready to head out in his Camaro. "It's the kind of place where if a kid gets in real trouble, his parents will be right there to bail him out." Carrot, not stick, approach:The idea fits into a school district already striving to put pride over punishment: At a recent meeting, the school board handed out a constellation's worth of gold stars to the members of the state-champ girls' tennis team and the award-winning school newspaper staff. At least in front of parents and officials, most students have applauded the measure. The Student Council unanimously approved it.And many parents think it's a terrific idea - even when they're sure their own kids are not experimenting. "My son's a Christian, so I don't think he'd fail it," says Sene Suli, a parent. "I think it's a good idea.My son should be rewarded for not taking drugs." Already, the district is hoping to expand the test - which will cost parents $10 - to its other two high schools.Moreover, on the night of the vote, a regional ROTC group announced it may also extend it to 100,000 enlistees nationwide - after seeing some results. "This is such a great idea, but we have to make sure it fits the situation," says ROTC spokesman Douglas Senter. "After all, what works here in Dutch Fork may not work in Chicago." So far, the program targets only the Foxes' "Den of Destruction" - where its athletes train and compete. The school says it's hitting a key population - and perhaps one least likely to actually use a lot of drugs and alcohol. Temple McLaughlin, for one, is skeptical about targeting athletes for the drug tests. As the boys' soccer team scrambles through a scrimmage, the varsity team manager says he figures maybe only half of the team will take the school up on its double-edged offer. "We all grew up hearing all kinds of stories about our parents, who are now telling us, 'Don't do what we did,' " he says. "It's a bit hypocritical." To be sure, in private, students protest - but meekly. No constitutional issues apply, because they don't face any punishment for not taking the test.And, they agree, this program has none of the drama of mandatory test schemes or locker searches. But there are concerns other than constitutional caveats. Parents of football players worry that Coach Kimmrey may decide who's on the team based on test results. As a result, Kimmrey will be restricted from finding out how players scored - and who took the test. Note: One South Carolina school tries out a new drug-prevention tool: voluntary testing for athletes.Source: Christian Science Monitor (US)Author: Patrik Jonsson, Special To The Christian Science Monitor Published: March 9, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Christian Science Publishing Society.Address: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115Fax: (617) 450-2031Contact: oped csps.comWebsite: Article:Editorial: Just Say 'Shame'?
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Comment #10 posted by dddd on March 09, 2001 at 23:10:44 PT
Mr. Schwinn
Nifty,,I appreciated your story,,,,this guy was most likely a scientologist.Mind control is indeed quite eye-opening,,after you become aware of it.dddd
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Comment #9 posted by fixjuxa on March 09, 2001 at 19:35:48 PT:
"My son's a Christian, so I don't think he'd fail" Hahahahahaha! Riiiiiight!Adam
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Comment #8 posted by NiftySplifty on March 09, 2001 at 18:32:12 PT
Nifty, you get a DOWN-TAG!
I recall my fifth-grade teacher in California giving us "Up-Tags", or "Down-Tags" depending on our behavior. His name was Mr. Schwinn, and he used a simple method of rewarding or shaming the students into the behavior he wanted. If you were talking, you'd get a DT. If he noted your silence, you'd get the opportunity to remove your DT, and break even.If you really kissed ass, you'd get an Up Tag. It makes me think of the TV show Jeapardy, where you start off at "0", but if you didn't answer properly they didn't let you play "Final-Jeapardy".I think the kids with the Up-Tags at the end of class got their asses kicked anyway, so I'd imagine these stars would work just as well.Nifty...
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Comment #7 posted by Alex S on March 09, 2001 at 17:08:12 PT
Since when has the world of gold stars and an approving administrative hand clasped to your shoulder ever competed against that of sex and illicit drugs? I'm sure the newspaper staff all eagerly signed up, but the adhesive on those gold stars will have to be pretty hallucinogenic to recruit any pot users. This is unbelievable.
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Comment #6 posted by sm247 on March 09, 2001 at 16:47:32 PT
naziism rerevisited
This is such a krock I can hear being teased and ridiculed by more than half the student body for having a star. kids will find some weed and use it just to "fail a test" to look cool or fit in to the group. I can see this idea causing more first time users than helping the situation. Also it reminds me too much of naziism and the jews the star of David. This is a bad idea.You will see. Auuuuuuchtung!!!her di u ashluikkor
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Comment #5 posted by Trigger on March 09, 2001 at 13:20:09 PT
Can Drugs Keep Students Off Peer Pressure?
Instead of giving money to found colleges to promote learning, why don't they pass a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as good as the Prohibition one did, why, in five years we would have the smartest race of people on earth.-- Will Rogers 
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Comment #4 posted by Kevin Hebert on March 09, 2001 at 12:37:04 PT:
"If you don't participate, no benefits are withheld, but you're ridiculed and pressured - very clever," says Julie Underwood, general counsel for the National School Boards Association in Alexandria, Va. Do you know anyone who would ridicule or pressure someone for failing to have a gold star? I mean, this is just a stupid idea. I dont' think it's that harmful, I just don't see how it's going to help that much. It just goes to show how few good ideas come from the prohibition side, I guess.
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Comment #3 posted by Patrik on March 09, 2001 at 12:28:18 PT:
Misplaced logic
Hey I know another term for when you pressure someone to do something they don't want to do becuase it's intimidating, intrusive, and a violation of your rights: hazing.Parents get all up in arms when their kids are picked on for not carry equipment, yet if they're picked on for not wanting to let their private issue interfere with their school affairs it's perfectly fine.
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Comment #2 posted by Dan B on March 09, 2001 at 12:07:19 PT:
This Will Backfire
These stars will become a symbol of weakness to the general student population--a symbol that the star-wearers gave in to a fascist system, and that they have no inner strength to stand up for their own rights.I know this is the way it would have worked in my school. Ironically, most of those with the stars will be those who spend their weekends drinking, rather than using illegal drugs. The message this will ultimately reinforce is that drinking is socially acceptable behavior, especially for the young. Despicable.Dan B 
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Comment #1 posted by J.R. Bob Dobbs on March 09, 2001 at 12:01:57 PT
The Star-Bellied Sneetches
  Since the test costs $10, I'm assuming it's a urinalysis, or simply a test for marijuana. Hard drugs like cocaine and heroin only show up for a day or two. Most psychedelics aren't even covered. But marijuana, which stays in your system for a month, is. So really the kids with the stars are just kids who didn't smoke weed for the past month. They could still be on Ritalin, Exstacy, LSD, etc. Isn't this what the prohibitionists would call a gateway?>>My son's a Christian, so I don't think he'd fail it  Sounds a little like profiling to me...
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