According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, among the graduating class of 1997, 54.3 percent of students had used an illicit drug by the time they reached their senior year of high school: a dramatic increase from the once 40.7 percent in 1992. The study also reported an increase among high school seniors from 27.1 percent in 1992 to 42.4 percent in 1997, that had used an illicit drug in that past year. There was also an increase from 14.4 percent (1992) to 26.2 percent (1997) of use in the past month. And due to the addictive nature of drugs, many of these young students will continue using them throughout their life.
Drug abuse has become an increasing problem in the nation’s high schools today. The question is, how is it prevented? Drug testing has been a successful way of controlling this, and the problems associated with it. It is true though, that the most effective way begins in the home, when children are young and just learning about drugs and their hazardous health risks. Other programs deal with educating students about the effects and dangers that will effect a person for the rest of their life. These programs also teach about the legal issues involved. But what do you do for high school students, after it is too late to carry out these programs. And often the programs have been carried out, but students ignored the warning and council, and end up breaking the law. What do you do then? Many schools are implementing drug testing programs, which have been proven to successfully decrease the amount of drug abuse that occurs in schools.
High School drug testing has become a very controversial topic in many communities across the nation. Many students and parents are arguing that drug testing is a violation of the rights of a US citizen as designated in the 4th amendment of the Constitution. But, in the Supreme Court case of Vernonia School District v. Wayne Acton, it was ruled constitutional. They also argue that it is unethical, and sending the wrong message to students. One parent said, as stated in an article in the Seattle Times, Kids who experiment and are caught, they’re going to be banned from extracurricular activities. And their choice is probably going to be to party more. They won’t have the other outlets that are an alternative to drugs. First, for the programs that have been used in schools, it has been common for a third offense to be necessary before completely banning the student from extracurricular activities. But, if a student who participates in those activities, is caught using drugs, then it obviously wasn’t an alternative to drug use. In addition to that, most communities have programs for teenagers to participate in to keep them away from those types of things, and even help them quit.
Other arguments are over legal issues. In the 4th amendment to the Constitution it states the Federal Government shall not violate the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. In the Vernonia case, the measure of constitutionality depended upon the reasonableness of the search; high school drug testing among student athletes was considered reasonable. One could still argue that by having an athletic policy that requires refraining from drug use could be unconstitutional as well. But where the law prohibits the use of illicit drugs by anyone, and when you take into consideration the rights of others that would be affected, having such a policy is the only way to protect the students who participate.
Those school districts that have already implemented a drug testing program have found that it works. Burlington-Edison High School of Skagit County, Washington, implemented a drug testing program very similar to that of the Vernonia School District. And after the first year of drug testing, about 25 students had been caught. Since that first year, the overall drug use has decreased, calling for a reduction in drug testing.
The system that these schools used was very professional and kept confidential to protect the identities of the students from outside sources. The system calls for random drug tests to be administered as often as needed. Procedures start by having the student fill out a specimen control form that must be filled out to keep track of the test sample. This also monitors all medications (if any) that that particular student may be taking, to ensure that the students sample isnt falsely determined positive. When the sample is taken, there are many controls that are instigated to ensure that it has not been tampered with. These would include such precautions as having a faculty member monitor the student while the sample is being taken (this would be done using situations that you would find yourself in while using a public restroom), coloring the toilet water, making sure the toilet isnt flushed, and even sealing off the faucets of a sink. The samples are then sent to a lab where they will be tested for content. The results are then returned to the administration, which will enforce the proper penalties for positive test results. Those who test positive, are first given a warning and will be tested again at a later time. When tested again, if the student tests positive a second time, they will be withdrawn from any current activities, and be referred to a help group, or other professional coping methods, to help the student harness his/her addictions. If the same student tests positive a third time, they will be banned from participation in extracurricular activities.
This testing process has been proven to reduce drug abuse in schools. By implementing these programs in schools throughout the nation, the problems caused by drug abuse can be diminished.
Social Issues Essays