As a society, what are we willing to lose in the pursuit of a drug-free world? A lot, apparently. Last week Wolcott High School in Wolcott, Connecticut conducted a school-wide search for drugs by police officers and drug-sniffing dogs. In order to clear the halls to conduct the search, the school used an unconventional method.
Early in the school-day, a school administrator announced over the public address system that a dangerous intruder had entered the school and that all students were to remain in their classrooms, away from windows and ideally huddled into one corner of the room. Once students were sufficiently terrified and secure in their classrooms, the search was conducted. According to a spokesperson for the Wolcott Police Department, no drugs were found during the search.
Nothing was found, but what was lost? For starters, the entire student population of Wolcott High School now has a very compelling reason to distrust the school’s administrators when they warn them of a potential threat. Perhaps some of the students of Wolcott Elementary can be brought in to give Wolcott High School’s administrators a remedial course on The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
It doesn’t take a team of misguided high school administrators to realize that children learn best when they feel safe and secure in their learning environment. Any sense of security they had was robbed from the students of Wolcott High School the moment their school’s administrators threatened them with a phony intruder. The students of Wolcott High School will now go to school more fearful and more stressed as a result of their administrator’s actions.
This is the case of what can happen when public officials give in to hysteria. These are the extremes that the Drug War will take us to. When a person or organization uses violence or the threat of violence to achieve their political goals, we call it terrorism. In a country where the memories of the massacres at Columbine and Virginia Tech still haunt the public consciousness, when a school uses the threat of violence in order to conduct a search for drugs, what shall we call it?