Drug Testing in Public Schools

| July 22, 2002

Dangerous Lessons: Drug Testing in Public Schools

The Supreme Court's decision to allow schools to conduct random drug tests on students participating in extracurricular activities may be a violation of students' rights, but Richard Glen Boire in CounterPunch says there's also a very ironic twist: The tests may actually deter students from taking part in after-school programs, while encouraging them to take drugs.

Boire says the decision is just another desperate tactic that feeds the paranoia of the war on drugs. 'The decision not only victimizes our children, it makes them the enemy,' writes Boire. 'Being a public school student is now synonymous with being a criminal suspect or a prisoner.'

One of the worst ways to discourage students from using drugs is to eliminate options to drugs, which Boire says the decision will do for many students. Clearly, punishment and hindering students from positive choices is ineffective, yet they continue to be the foundations of drug education and prevention. 'The federal government has tried everything from threatening imprisonment to yanking student loans, to spending hundreds of millions of dollars on 'just say no' advertisements, and still, some students continue to experiment with marijuana and other drugs,' he writes.

The real solution, says Boire, is to find an altogether new way of teaching about drugs. Since students will likely experiment with drugs with or without threats of punishment, he reasons that the approach should follow a 'safe sex' guideline, based on respect and knowledge instead of intimidation and shame.
--Julie Madsen
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