Dogs sniffing kids’ backpacks and lockers, breathalyzers at high school dances, a police presence in many public schools, and the use of weapons screenings.
All these have become familiar sights at high schools, but now we have drug tests for middle school students?
Sure, it’s important to find out if Olympic athletes have been cheating to enhance their performance, but why do 12-year-olds have to undergo drug tests to participate in athletics and even scrapbooking? What on earth is the purpose?
The New York Times explains what’s going on in Milford, Pennsylvania:
As a 12-year-old seventh grader, Glenn and Kathy Kiederer’s older daughter wanted to play sports at Delaware Valley Middle School here. She also wanted to join the scrapbooking club.
One day she took home a permission slip. It said that to participate in the club or any school sport, she would have to consent to drug testing.
“They were asking a 12-year-old to pee in a cup,” Kathy Kiederer said. “I have a problem with that. They’re violating her right to privacy over scrapbooking? Sports?”
And it’s not just in Pennsylvania. The states of Florida, Alabama, Missouri, West Virginia, Arkansas, Ohio, New Jersey and Texas conduct drug testing on middle school students, the New York Times reports, and there may be more.
How the drug-testing program works for middle schools varies by school district, but it usually involves an outside testing company conducting the tests under contract with school authorities. With little advance notice, students are pulled from class and told to pee in a cup.
High schools test for drugs. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of school drug tests in 1995. Some districts used this as license to expand drug testing into middle school. The federal government is involved, too. According to the Times report, “in 2003, the Department of Education started a program that offered federal money for drug testing in grades 6 through 12,” although the program will end this fall.
Proponents of drug testing middle school students argue that it serves as a deterrent to drug abuse by young people. But the New York Times notes that there are no known instances of a middle school student testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The few positive results among middle school students have been attributed to marijuana, officials said, and even those cases are rare.
A report by the American Academy of Pediatrics in March 2007, concluded that random drug testing of high school students doesn’t deter drug use. On the other hand, such testing might have the affect of encouraging teens to switch to less-detectable substances, such as alcohol and inhalants.
The Kiederer family is currently involved in a lawsuit filed against the Delaware Valley School District, according to the New York Times. For now, the family has won an injunction “preventing the district from enforcing its policy and allowing their daughters to participate in extracurricular activities.”
The question of why middle schoolers need to submit to drug tests has not been answered. Is it to benefit those multi-billion testing companies? Or to deprive young people of their civil rights? Or to make all students grow to hate their schools?
I’d suggest that instead of requiring a cup of urine, middle schools put the time into getting to know their clientele better.
What do you think?
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