School administrators are required by the government to make sure that their school environment is supportive, healthy and safe for children. They need to ensure that the academy is the perfect place for the kids to learn a lot of things and they can reach their full potential. It includes taking the right measures to help prevent drugs, alcohol and tobacco use among kids (and faculty members).
Historically, institutions have implemented programs like Drug Abuse Resistance Education or D.A.R.E to prevent substance use and abuse in their vicinity. Still, according to research, programs like Drug Abuse Resistance Education does not work. Instead of supporting the implementation of proven and tested substance abuse prevention practices, some school administrators have turned to a more controversial and punitive approach: substance screening their students.
Is D.A.R.E project effective? Visit https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8781009 to find out.
How do schools conduct drug screening tests?
Following protocols established by companies, some institutions conduct their random drug screening and reasonable cause testing. It usually involves collecting the students’ urine samples to test for substances like cocaine, marijuana, opioids like heroin or prescription pain relievers, amphetamines, and P.C.P.s or phencyclidine.
In random drug screening, kids are randomly selected regardless of their substance use history. It might include kids that are required to do testing as a condition of participating in extra-curricular activities. In reasonable cause substance testing, students are asked to provide a sample if the administrator suspects them or the academy has evidence that they are using illegal substances.
Why do schools conduct a random substance test?
Most, if not all, institutions adopt random substance testing to minimize illegal substance abuse and misuse among their students. First, they hope these testing will serve as a deterrent and provide their students with the right reason to resist illegal substances.
Secondly, these screenings can identify kids who have started using illegal drugs and would benefit from the intervention, as well as find out kids who already are taking illicit substances and need a referral to treatment. Using illegal substances not only interferes with the kid’s ability to learn, but it can also disturb the school teaching environment, affecting everyone in the academy including the faculty and staff, not only the students.
Is this legal?
In 2002, the United States Supreme Court widened the scope of public institutions to screen kids for illicit substances. The court ruling allowed random drug examination for all high school, even middle school students that participate in competitive sports and other extra-curricular activities.
The supreme court ruling expanded the scope of the school random drug screening, which previously allowing student-athletes to get tested. Just because the United States Supreme Court said that screening for adolescents in sports competition and extra-curricular activities is legal and constitutional, but does that mean it is not illegal in some states or cities?
School districts that are interested in adopting a drug-screening program should look for legal counsel so that the program complies with all local, state and federal laws. Every state constitution may dictate different thresholds when it comes to the legality of allowing drug examination for students. Communities that are interested in starting a program should become familiar with every law in the state to make sure that they are compliant.
How many students use illegal substances?
According to the findings from M.T.F or Monitoring the Future survey conducted on 8th, 10th, and 12th-grade kids, the past-year use of illegal substances other than cannabis or marijuana is down in all three grades. More or less 21% of all 12th-grade students say that they have used any illicit substances other than cannabis at least once or twice in their lifetime, and more or less 30% are reported using cannabis in the previous year.
If you want to know more about drug use and addiction, click here to find out more.
Misuse and abuse of prescription drugs are also a concern for a lot of administrators. For instance, in 2006, more or less 6% of all high school seniors are reported non-medical use of prescription stimulants called Adderall in the past couple of years. Sometimes, the problem is not with the school or peer pressure.
Usually, kids with prescription drug problems get their supplies at their own homes. That is why, in every program, not only the school and its students or staff need to be more active, but parents also need to participate. Make sure that the kids do not have access to these prescription drugs at home.