Drug Testing Kids in School: The New Norm?

About 17 percent of American high school students are drinking, smoking or using drugs during the school day, according to a new study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. The study revealed that nearly 44 percent of students told survey-takers they know a classmate who sells drugs. Marijuana was the easiest drug to come by, followed by prescription drugs, cocaine and ecstasy. A newer form of ecstasy known as “Molly” is rapidly gaining popularity among high-schoolers due to it’s easy-to-take pill form, and its references among popular songs.

Some schools (at least 16.5%) have begun drug testing students, while other parents are turning to privately drug testing their children.

In the early 1990s, schools across the nation began drug-testing students in order to curb their substance abuse. In 1995, during the Vernonia School District v. Acton case, a divided Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a school district’s right to require athletes to consent to random drug testing. Seven years later, in 2002, the Supreme Court deemed a district’s right to randomly test students participating in any competitive extra-curricular activities constitutional.

The benefits of student drug-testing are clear: it gives these young adults and children a reason to say no, and is only applicable to those who volunteer to participate in extracurricular activities. It deters those who should be setting a role for their peers from providing a bad example. However, there are some oppositions to this type of preventative measure. Some believe that drug-testing students leads to aggravation and pushes them away from the extracurricular activities they would have engaged in. There is also a concern about privacy, rights violations, and the expense that comes with these policies.

Regardless, the Institution of Education Sciences conducted a study between 2007 and 2009 that provided clear, measurable results. There was no evidence of misreporting, and a smaller number of students in schools that instituted drug-testing policies used drugs within the past 30 days.

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