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Why Are 12-Year-Olds Being Tested For Drugs?

Why Are 12-Year-Olds Being Tested For Drugs?

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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136 comments

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11:43AM PDT on Apr 5, 2013

I'm not sure if it's actually true or not, but word around the high school and college I went to was that cocaine and meth could not be detected after 2 days with a urine test, while weed could be detected for 2 weeks. I'm certainly NOT endorsing weed for teens, but I’d prefer they stuck to that over coke or meth if they are going to do drugs. Drug testing DOES NOT keep people from using drugs. It just makes them go to further lengths to cover it up (go stand behind the dumpster at almost any fast food/retail place that drug tests and employees high school/college students if you don’t believe it). In college, I actually heard athletes say “no, I only do coke now because they drug test me at work”. I’d also like to know if the tests they use even test for harder drugs like coke and meth (many do not!) or if they only look for pot. I think it would make kids much safer to spend the money used on drug testing to provide education material on the long term effects of drugs on brains that are still developing, resisting peer pressure or (god forbid!) sex ed.

6:29AM PST on Nov 28, 2012

I agree get to know your clients - those schools are just like warehouses - dangerous!

7:00AM PDT on Oct 24, 2012

the reason 12 year olds are being tested? 12 year olds are using and abusing drugs. that is a fact of life. Maybe your kid isn't, and that's great. good parenting. I give you a pat on the back. But the reality is that other kids ARE using, and to participate in clubs and sports is a privilege, not a right. If you act out in class or fail classes you will be dropped from the fun stuff. extracurricular. drug use is by FAR considered acting out. would you want your child hanging out after school with a bunch of dope heads? no. so stop whining and be thankful we have the means to protect our kids from the bad judgement of others (in this case)

10:06AM PDT on Oct 9, 2012

Ok I'm from the UK so I know my opinon won't count for much.
However testing 12 year olds for drugs before participating in School sports is ridiculous and could possibly be considered an infringement of their Civil/Human Rights!
Do they have a parent/guardian present during these tests? Isn't a parent/legal guardian required by Law to be present? After all they're still children.

I notice the Department of Education will no longer offer Federal Money after the autumn/fall because the programme is due to end then. That's a blessing..............but how many millions upon millions of £/$ have been thrown away in the process?
There are countless families living on or below the 'Poverty Line'. Hundreds of thousands people who are homeless. Others who are badly in need of operations that could save or immensely improve their lives. That's in the UK and USA alone! God only knows how many worldwide............those in Third World Countries'.
Yes I am aware we have the NHS and the USA's policy is different, but the millions upon millions of £/$ that have been 'thrown away' would have been better spent helping those who so desperately need it.
The vast majority of us may not agree with or support the wars/conflicts where the United Nations decide to send our Troops, but we support our Troops 100%. If they're not being immediately brought home to their families and friends, the money would be better spent keeping our Armed Forces safe in Afghanistan, Iraq etc.

12:38PM PDT on Oct 6, 2012

How about IQ tests for politicians at all levels?

9:50AM PDT on Oct 6, 2012

A dozen green stars to John D. He nailed it. You have to indoctrinate them young, and they will accept the police state without thinking. Obedience at all costs. No thinking allowed.

9:40AM PDT on Oct 6, 2012

Hmmmm.... how about comprehensive wellness checks annually for everyone---that's the testing I'd support.....

10:57PM PDT on Oct 5, 2012

With all those media report of performance enhancing drugs and drug cheats in scrapbooking this whole thing is a serious problem. Imagine what would happen if performance enhancing drugs made their way into sports you could never be sure that winners have actually won.

When did pre-teen become "reasonable cause"?

2:26PM PDT on Oct 5, 2012

that's a bit odd..here in Canada, never has a cop tried to come to our school even in high school and test us for drugs.

1:54PM PDT on Oct 5, 2012

thanks

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