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Just How Effective Is School Drug Testing?

By: ATSI Admin March 10, 2014 no comments

Just How Effective Is School Drug Testing?

drug-testingDrug testing has become a hot button issue among school districts, businesses and households across the country. A number of schools in the Atlantic City area have started conducting random drug tests on students. According to the Mainland Regional High School administration, only two of 100 students tested positive for drugs this year, which they consider a success. “This indicates one of two things,” Principal Mark Marrone told reporters. “The drug testing is working, or our kids weren’t doing drugs in the first place.”

The principal may be right, but others are wondering if the school district is being overly optimistic about drug use among its students. According to New Jersey state law, schools only test students involved with sports or other extracurricular activities, leaving out an entire demographic. “It’s tedious and one-sided,” said senior Ethan Fischer, a student athlete at Mainland High. “The students who are physically involved in school activities aren’t the ones they should be targeting. It’s the kids who aren’t involved in anything, the ones who don’t care, that they should test.”

A survey conducted by the New Jersey School Boards Association found that in 2012, 64.3 percent of districts that responded said they did not engage in random drug testing. 20.5 percent did test student athletes, 13.4 percent noted they test students who participate in extracurricular activities and 8.9 percent tested students who requested parking privileges on school grounds.

Students in New Jersey who test positive for drugs or alcohol must attend counseling sessions, and those who fail multiple tests are required to go to drug rehab and therapy. The goal behind intervention and treatment is that the school will step in and put an end to self-destructive behavior, before it’s too late.

Cheating on Drug Tests

Students are keeping up with the advancements in drug testing technology. There are countless websites dedicated to tips and tricks for cheating on a drug test. Could it be that drug testing in schools only leads to a false sense of security on the part of state and school officials?

Atlantic City students also say that classmates take advantage of the window of time in between tests. After they are called in to take a drug test, they feel they can relax and return to experimenting with substances, because they know they won’t be tested again for a while.

Effective… Or Not?

Research shows that in many cases, the threat of drug testing does not make an impact on a student’s decision to use drugs or alcohol. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol, high school students who attend schools with drug testing policies were just as likely to use marijuana, cigarettes or alcohol as students who went to schools without drug testing policies.

Education and prevention campaigns continue to be effective ways to keep the number of students experimenting with drugs and alcohol to a minimum. Whether or not a school district conducts drug tests, it is vital that they continue to expand and improve prevention programs in order to help students understand the dangers of substance abuse.

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