By: Bethany Winkel
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Drug Sweeps at New Jersey Schools
In this day and age, students can expect to experience certain things at school, such as standardized testing, emergency preparedness drills, and now drug sweeps. It is definitely a different world than many of us grew up in, but drug tests, drug sweeps, and drug-sniffing dogs are now becoming commonplace in some school districts. What do you think? Should students be subjected to random drug sweeps at school? The more important question is: will this practice be effective in curbing teenage drug abuse?
The latest sweep happened at Ridge High School in Bernard Township, Somerset County. Drug-sniffing dogs were walked up and down the school’s main hallways and in the student parking lot. Police found marijuana and numerous narcotic pills in one 18 year old female’s vehicle, leading to the girl’s arrest. The purpose of the search, according to police, was to “ensure that the safety and well-being of our students are preserved.
The objective of this operation was to deter students from bringing controlled dangerous substances to the school and to impress the message of law enforcement and the Board of Education’s stance on zero-tolerance on illegal drugs and drug abuse.”
A letter from the school superintendent, Nick Markarian, was sent home to parents, informing them of the sweep. “As you know we take the health and safety of our students very seriously and we hope that today’s activities help to underscore how much we care about our students. Furthermore, we encourage parents to use today’s events as an opportunity to talk to their children about the dangers of using drugs,” the letter said.
Drug Tests and Sweeps for Students
This is not the first drug sweep of its kind in the state. Ocean Country has used drug-sniffing dogs since 2013 in middle and high schools. Other counties have similar practices, and many more have implemented drug testing on students involved with sports and other extracurricular activities.
A parent meeting will be held this Monday, Feb. 23, to discuss any parent concerns or questions. While many accept the practice of random drug sweeps as a sign of the changing times, not everyone is happy about having their child checked in this way.
Providing Drug Treatment to Those that Need It
Others argue that the sweeps do little good to get at the heart of the issue, and could instead provide schools and parents with a false sense of security when tests do not reveal any drug activity.
In order for drug sweeps and random drug tests to do any good, there must be help available to those that are found with drugs. Prevention programs should not just threaten and scare students, but help them understand the dangers of drug abuse, and provide them with constructive things to do. Rather than looking to simply catch students for breaking the law, it is important to find out which students need help for drug addiction, and then provide them with that help.
You can read more about the most recent drug sweep at newjerseyhills.com.