It is the school administration’s responsibility to ensure that students are healthy and have no addictions, can learn in a safe environment helping everyone to reach full potential. One of the most popular measures aimed at deterring alcohol, tobacco and drug use is drug testing. This approach has proved to be very effective for pilots, so applying it in schools also seems to be quite reasonable. Many programs work nationwide and bring promising results.
However, drug testing is a rather controversial practice. Apart from advocates, it has opponents. Experts from Pro-Papers have analyzed arguments of both parties to make it easier for you to decide whether this method is useful or harmful.
Pros of drug testing
Deterring drug use
If a crime may be noticed, people usually think twice before committing it. When young people are informed about the ways how a school administration is going to control them and the consequences of misbehavior, discipline is usually at times higher. Shame and problems which may be experienced in the future discourage learners to experiment with drugs. A good example is a voluntary program that was conducted in Autauga County, Alabama. Over two years, it significantly reduced nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana use rates. However, people criticizing drug testing claim that the program’s success is connected with the fact that participants received rewards and discounts for purchasing goods in local shops. Here is the great question: would this experiment be effective without additional initiatives?
An excuse to refuse drugs
Many students perceive drugs as an element of youth culture, the way to raise self-esteem, be respected in a peer group. If a person refuses to drink a glass of beer or smoke a cigarette with classmates, they may regard such behavior as arrogance, individualism, the desire to show that this person is better than surrounding people. Misunderstandings often lead to conflicts, turn students into nerds and hermits, even if they just want to be healthy and try to refuse drugs politely.
A convenient way to avoid something you do not like is pretending to be a victim of circumstance. A person may excuse one’s unwillingness to smoke or drink by the necessity to pass drug tests. This helps to conceal personal motifs and avoid peer pressure. The same method is applied when students do not want to attend boring parties and say that parents ask them to stay at home.
Even if classmates are dissatisfied with this excuse, it at least allows a person to postpone decision-making. This is especially important for persons having a rather vague idea of their own preferences, finding it difficult to see the difference between teenage trends and personal wishes. People often suppress the voice of consciousness to stay the members of a peer group with opposite values.
Actions may be taken if students test positive
Drug addiction becomes stronger over time. That is why preventing it is the best option. However, if young people currently smoke, drink or take drugs, the second thing which may be done is revealing the fact of drug use and preventing bad habits from strengthening. Studies have shown that people turn into heavy smokers and drinkers at the age of 35 if their love for tobacco and alcohol was not deterred in youth. It is much harder to retune yourself to a healthy lifestyle in adulthood. A teenager’s brain undergoes constant changes, so it is easier to add correct algorithms and eliminate harmful ones. Long term effects of drug use may be very serious, destructive for a whole body. Mental development slows down. Addicts experience psychological disorders. Diseases may affect all organs. People usually understand that their habits are wrong but, at the same time, have not enough willpower to change something. Therefore, drug testing programs are aimed to eliminate the problem in its infancy, ensure that today’s students will have a happy, healthy life not spoiled by addictions.
Cons of drug testing
Violating constitutional rights
Legislators have repeatedly pointed out that random drug testing contradicts the Fourth Amendment, just like random home searches. Just imagine that the police will break into your house and scour it whenever officers want. Otherwise, you will have no right to stay an active community member. This approach seems to be way too rude. It is worth not forgetting that a student’s body is an even more intimate thing than a house. At the same time, in 2002, the Supreme Court stated that young people taking part in extracurricular competitions may be tested because this measure seems to be reasonable for detecting, deterring and preventing drug use. A number of educational institutions tried to expand this permit to other areas of school life, for example, tie it to parking permits. But these attempts were not supported by legislators. Since the issue has a controversial nature, it is quite possible that courts will revise their decisions, grant new rights to schools or prohibit random drug testing at all.
Lowering extracurricular activity
Many students do not get rid of bad habits but just avoid extracurricular activities in order not to be tested. Even those who do not smoke or drink think that testing is rather humiliating, so it is better to take a passive position. It turns out that striving to protect students’ health, schools just discourage them from going in for sports. There are fewer talented athletes, fewer victories and titles which educational institutions may be proud of.
Even though community businesses and state grants provide some financial assistance, most expenses are covered by school budgets at the expense of other academic life aspects. Less money is spent on implementing tech innovations in classrooms, reissuing textbooks, purchasing lab equipment, organizing educational trips, etc. Since testing is random, it usually turns out that most subjects are drug-free, which means wasted money. It at least makes sense to test a person when there are some suspicions, for example, if classmates or teachers have seen that one was smoking.