Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Schools to Begin Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Testing

It is no secret that high school is a time when kids will begin to determine the course of their lives. It is a time that can be full of hard decisions and peer pressure, mainly the pressure and opportunities to use drugs and alcohol. Recently, certain high schools across America have begun to implement more stringent testing of students for drugs as well as alcohol.

Restrictions Common in Past Years

Alcohol and drug control on campuses have always been a commonly occurring issue in public school systems. Limiting time between classes, requiring see-through backpacks, and even bringing in the occasional drug dog has been typical of most schools throughout the nation. However, districts are now feeling the need to take further action.

In some school systems such as Pequannock Township High School in New Jersey, a new type of test will be administered to students. This test is called the ETG urine test and can detect traces of alcohol consumption up to 3 days after the fact. Other schools will conduct hair sample tests in order to detect traces of drugs, such as marijuana, in addition to alcohol. While these test will determine whether a student has used drugs or alcohol it cannot determine if tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, were used.

This new testing policy has stirred up different types of reactions from many individuals.

Reasons for the Testing

School officials believe that by implementing random drug and alcohol tests they will reduce the risk of illegal usage by students. By giving students a legitimate reason to say no kids will be empowered to make better decisions. 

Furthermore, if a student tests positive for any substance, the schools have made it clear that they will not discipline the individual. Instead, the school will offer counseling programs that will aide the student in becoming substance free. Parents of the student will also be informed and the course of action will be left for them to decide.

This push for alcohol testing is being made mainly due to the fact that drunk driving is responsible for the deaths of around 2000 underage kids per year. This is a number that is hard to ignore, and school officials feel that it is their duty to take action.

Resistance to New Policy

Although these actions are being carried out with the best intentions they lie in an area of moral ambiguity. The American Civil Liberty Union argues that this type of testing is an invasion of privacy and an infringement on constitutional rights. In addition, many students and parents believe that it is not the job of the school to monitor what a student does on the weekend.

Also in question is the accuracy and validity of the ETG tests. Although theses tests can detect alcohol 3 days after consumption they have been known to test positive if substances other than alcohol, such as vanilla and hand sanitizer, are present. This could lead to innocent individuals being victimized and could create unnecessary problems.

It is understandable that schools want to ensure that their educational environments remain untainted, however, the boundary of how far officials should be allowed to go is a topic that needs to be clarified.

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