Missouri high school to drug test students

11 Feb

Fox News reports in the story, Missouri high school reportedly to use hair samples for random drug tests:

Beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, students at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City will be mandated to undergo random drug testing by submitting roughly 60 strands of hair to a staff member at the 1,000-student school, KSHB.com reports.

Using a company called Psychemedics, officials at the Jesuit school said students will be tested for a variety of substances over the previous 90 days, including cocaine, PCP, opiates, methamphetamine, marijuana and binge alcohol.

Our point is, if we do encounter a student who has made some bad decisions with drugs or alcohol, we will be able to intervene, get the parents involved, get him help if necessary, and then help him get back on a path of better decision making, healthier choices for his life,” Rockhurst Principal Greg Harkness told the website.

If a student tests positive for any substance, according to the new policy, a guidance counselor will be notified. The counselor will then notify the student’s parents to determine how to best help the child.

The student would then be given 90 days to be drug-free, with no notification sent to administrative personnel. The incident would only be noted in the student’s guidance file, which would later be destroyed upon graduation and will not be sent to colleges or universities. The document would only become public if subpoenaed, the website reports.
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/01/31/missouri-high-school-reportedly-to-use-hair-samples-for-random-drug-tests/#ixzz2KXRqmSpX

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (Institute) has some great information about drug testing.

In Frequently Asked Questions About Drug Testing in Schools, the Institute discusses drug testing.

Why test teenagers at all?

Teens are especially vulnerable to drug abuse, when the brain and body are still developing. Most teens do not use drugs, but for those who do, it can lead to a wide range of adverse effects on the brain, the body, behavior and health.

Short term: Even a single use of an intoxicating drug can affect a person’s judgment and decisonmaking—resulting in accidents, poor performance in a school or sports activity, unplanned risky behavior, and the risk of overdosing.

Long term: Repeated drug abuse can lead to serious problems, such as poor academic outcomes, mood changes (depending on the drug: depression, anxiety, paranoia, psychosis), and social or family problems caused or worsened by drugs.

Repeated drug use can also lead to the disease of addiction. Studies show that the earlier a teen begins using drugs, the more likely he or she will develop a substance abuse problem or addiction. Conversely, if teens stay away from drugs while in high school, they are less likely to develop a substance abuse problem later in life….

Is random drug testing of students legal?

In June 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court broadened the authority of public schools to test students for illegal drugs. Voting 5 to 4 in Pottawatomie County v. Earls, the court ruled to allow random drug tests for all middle and high school students participating in competitive extracurricular activities. The ruling greatly expanded the scope of school drug testing, which previously had been allowed only for student athletes.

Just because the U.S. Supreme Court said student drug testing for adolescents in competitive extracurricular activities is constitutional, does that mean it is legal in my city or state?

A school or school district that is interested in adopting a student drug testing program should seek legal expertise so that it complies with all federal, state, and local laws. Individual state constitutions may dictate different legal thresholds for allowing student drug testing. Communities interested in starting student drug testing programs should become familiar with the law in their respective states to ensure proper compliance. http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/drug-testing/faq-drug-testing-in-schools

The primary issue is whether students have privacy rights.

Your Debate.com summarizes the pros and cons of School Drug Testing:

PRO 1

The main purpose of random school drug testing is not to catch kids using drugs, it to keep them from ever using them. Once their using drugs its harder for them to break their addiction. With many employers drug testing its very important for a kid’s future not to use drugs. Drug use is responsible for many crimes. Its worth the inconvenience for all our future.

CON 2

One of the fundamental features of our legal system is that we are presumed innocent of any wrongdoing unless and until the government proves otherwise. Random drug testing of student athletes turns this presumption on its head, telling students that we assume they are using drugs until they prove to the contrary with a urine sample.

CON 3

“If school officials have reason to believe that a particular student is using drugs, they already have the power to require that student to submit to a drug test,” said ACLU-NJ Staff Attorney David Rocah.

CON 4

The constitutional prohibition against “unreasonable” searches also embodies the principle that merely belonging to a certain group is not a sufficient reason for a search, even if many members of that group are suspected of illegal activity. Thus, for example, even if it were true that most men with long hair were drug users, the police would not be free to stop all long haired men and search them for drugs.

PRO 5

Peer pressure is the greatest cause of kids trying drugs. If by testing the athletes or other school leaders, we can get them  to say no to drugs, it will be easier for other kids to say no.

CON 6

Some also argue that students who aren’t doing anything wrong have nothing to fear. This ignores the fact that what they fear is not getting caught, but the loss of dignity and trust that the drug test represents. And we should all be afraid of government officials who believe that a righteous cause warrants setting aside bedrock constitutional protections. The lesson that our schools should be teaching is respect for the Constitution and for students’ dignity and privacy, not a willingness to treat cherished constitutional principles as mere platitudes. http://www.youdebate.com/DEBATES/school_drug_testing.HTM

See, What Are the Benefits of Drug Testing?http://www.livestrong.com/article/179407-what-are-the-benefits-of-drug-testing/

Substance abuse is often a manifestation of other problems that child has either at home or poor social relations including low self-esteem. Dr. Alan Leshner summarizes the reasons children use drugs in why do Sally and Johnny use drugs?

Resources:

Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base

Warning Signs of Teen Drug Abuse

Is Your Teen Using?

Al-Anon and Alateen

Center for Substance Abuse Publications

National Clearinghouse for Drug and Alcohol Information

WEBMD: Parenting and Teen Substance Abuse

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a very good booklet for families What is Substance Abuse Treatment?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a web site for teens and parents that teaches about drug abuse NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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