Student Drug Testing
Currently less than 5% of high schools in the U.S. perform random drug tests on their students. However, the federal government has recently ramped up its campaign to encourage schools to implement drug testing regimes and even offers grants to fund them. Meanwhile, representatives from drug testing companies are increasingly arranging presentations in front of local school boards to promote their products. As a result, some schools require students to submit to drug testing if they want to participate in any extra-curricular activity.
Unfortunately, student drug testing is ineffective, counterproductive, expensive, and invasive. Though intended to reduce student drug use, the science tells us that drug testing simply does not work. Many have raised concerns that such programs could even aggravate an existing drug problem by pushing students away from the same extracurricular activities that are proven to reduce drug use. Perhaps even worse, some students may substitute “harder” drugs for the much more detectable marijuana in an effort to avoid a positive test result.
The concerns about invasiveness and rights violations are self-evident. Forcing a student to urinate into a cup while a school official listens outside the stall undermines civics lessons on the Fourth Amendment. Moreover, schools should not be in the business of subjecting already body-conscious adolescents to this kind of humiliating experience.
Just as alarming as the government’s promotion of student drug testing is the emerging trend it has fueled regarding the erosion of students’ rights and privacy in other areas. At many schools, students can expect unannounced searches of their persons, bookbags, and lockers – with or without cause.