Let’s start with some background on why students have been drug tested in the first place. I will take you down a road trip. First stop, Administrators. Administrators have the responsibility of keeping students safe, happy, and have an overall safe environment in school. This includes taking measures to prevent students from using drugs and alcohol. Many schools have resorted to using the program D.A.R.E., including our own school, but studies have shown that D.A.R.E doesn’t actually work. So, schools started taking a different stance. They have been drug testing students.
Now, let’s take a detour and talk about what drug testing is, and if it is even legal. Many schools use the method of urinalysis, which is a fancy way of saying they test students urine. This test can pick up traces of marijuana, cocaine, opioids, and many more. Next question, is drug testing even legal? In June of 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court gave public schools the authority to test students for illegal drugs. The court ruled to allow random drug tests for all middle and high school students participating in extracurricular activities.
Let’s keep on driving and stop at a warehouse company. What is the purpose of drug testing? The idea of drug testing first came up all the way back in 1971 with employees in big companies. Our school is like a big company. We are all working, making ourselves a product of the company of school. The purpose of drug testing is to identify students with possible substance abuse issues and to intervene early. Administrators want to make a great product that employers want.
Now we are on the highway. The highway of our lives. Drugs can have a massive impact on families, relationships, and mental health. Using drugs not only affects you, but people in your life. Substance abuse is a growing problem in our nation. The overdose death rate from 1999 to 2019 has gone up nearly 50,000 people. Teens are struggling with marijuana, heroin, and opioids. Administrators are trying to think of some solutions to this growing problem. They mean well, but is this a good or bad thing?
According to Center on Addiction, the pros of drug testing are as follows
Allows for early intervention and preventing further use
It is a built in reason to resist peer pressure
Schools are fulfilling their duty to make a safe environment
It increases chances for students to have a successful future
For all these reasons, I believe drug testing middle school students is good. My dad works at our local jail. He talks with the inmates, and when he comes home he tells my sister and I stories. He tells us that many of the people he talks to started early, and because of their early mistake, their whole life has been spent in and out of jail. In addition, peer pressure is one of the main reasons young people try drugs, so giving them a reason to say no is an effective way of stopping drug use.
People who don’t agree with drug testing say
Tests are expensive, the money that funds them would be better spent on more effective prevention measures
Students who want to “cheat” the test may bring in someone else’s urine or turn to other drugs, alcohol or synthetic marijuana that will not show up on the test
While students are not supposed to be punished for a positive test, one study showed eight percent of students in a sample had been expelled
Extracurricular activities and athletics are pro-social activities that may be protective of substance use. When a positive drug test leads to suspension from these activities, the effects can be harmful