The question of whether students should be drug tested at schools is a complicated one, which is likely to elicit a wide variety of responses.
There are different possibilities too, such as frequent blanket testing of every student, occasional random testing regardless of suspicion to act as a general deterrent, or have based specifically on suspicion of drug use.
Ultimately, it is difficult to say what is the right choice, and it’s important to pay attention to individual signs of drug abuse by a teen rather than rely solely on generalized or random testing.
The Pro Position
Proponents for drug testing in schools say this would allow for early intervention and large-scale prevention of drug use and drug addiction. They also argue that this is the logical extension of schools being a drug-free environment and that it can provide a counter-balance to the peer pressure some students feel to use drugs.
The Con Position
Opponents argue that drug testing in schools is both expensive and mostly ineffective, and that available resources would be better deployed in other ways. Another argument is that cheating drug tests in this environment would be too easy, as students can pool knowledge and do things like swap urine to evade detection.
The Legal Position
There is currently no federal law in place on drug testing in public schools, but there have been rulings by the United States Supreme Court that speak to this issue. These rulings were specific to school-related activities rather than general school-wide testing, but appear to open the door. Despite this, the implementation and expansion of student drug testing by public school districts have been limited, with screening the exception rather than the norm.
What the Studies Say
Part of the problem is that studies that have tried to look into the question have been mixed, without coming to a clear conclusion. While some report a relation between testing and reduced drug use, others did not see this effect. Students also have self-reported that this would not be an effective deterrence, or that they would find a way around it if they were determined.
Ultimately, there has simply not been enough study or experience to know how worthwhile or effective widespread teen drug screening in schools would be.
If you are concerned about someone who may be in need of teen drug & alcohol rehab, contact Anthony Louis Center to learn about resources that are locally available.