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March 27, 2007 - Asbury Park Press (NJ)

Student Voices On Drug Testing

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Grades 7-8

First Place: Random Testing Inefficient

When a magician sets up three cups, he'll ask you which one has a ball underneath. Your chance of finding the ball is pretty fair. But what if next time, the magician sets up 1,000 cups and asks you to find the ball? It would be next to impossible to guess where the ball was.

In the same way, high schools would have a hard time finding people who have used drugs. It becomes a wild goose chase when you don't have anything to help target them. There should be no random tests for drugs in high schools since they are inefficient, an invasion of privacy and unnecessary when teachers could learn to detect drug use.

Don't get me wrong. The law against drug possession and use should be enforced to ensure the safety of students. However, how effective will random screenings be for a large high school? Maybe students will be less tempted to drink alcohol or smoke tobacco, but at least someone out there will and might still get away with it, so randomizing drug tests won't prove effective. It would also be impossible to screen every student and would cost schools money for testing. Teachers lose time for instruction as well when students leave the classroom.

Picturing myself in high school, I can imagine what my turn to be tested would be like. Even if I hadn't taken any drugs, the urine test would invade my privacy. A day with a drug test wouldn't be a fun one. Whether or not the students had any drugs in their system, they'd still be nervous and uncomfortable. There is a better way to detect drug usage in students that would save money, relative privacy and time.

Teachers are perfect for tracking down students using drugs. They are with them all day, so if teachers knew how to identify signs of drug use, more students would be watched and found out without using up extra time or money.

Linda Qiu, Eighth Grade

Second Place: A Response To Lawbreaking

Innocent people should have nothing to hide. That is the only statement that matters in the issue of conducting random tests for alcohol and other drugs in schools. Taking a drug test is not an issue of privacy but an issue of breaking the law. The only reason these students would want their right to privacy is if they had something to hide from their school, their parents and the law. This is why schools should conduct random tests for alcohol and other drugs.

The law means nothing in this country if it cannot be enforced. The schools can do something to enforce the laws against illegal drugs and under-aged drinking. By conducting random tests, schools will be able to punish students for breaking the law and show others the consequences. The number of kids using drugs and drinking will go down.

As for the students who argue against it, the assumption can only be made that they are the students taking the drugs and do not want to be caught. If one has nothing to hide, one should have no problem in complying with a simple test to prove himself innocent.

Random drug tests, some may say, are unethical, violating the rights of students. However, the schools are not doing so. All they ask is a simple drug test. They do not go to search students' homes, or wiretap the phones, or interrogate. All those would be unethical, which is why schools don't do them. The goal here is to enforce the law and send this message: If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

Katherine Ripley, Eighth Grade

Third Place: Keeping A Secret Delays Help

Have you ever had a secret that you felt the only person you could tell was your friend? You keep it secret from your parents and teachers, and your friend does the same. But you realize that keeping it a secret from the people who really care isn't helping. You know that you need to tell, but you don't feel gutsy enough to do it.

That's probably what it feels like for most teens taking drugs and alcohol. No teen wants to tell a parent or teacher about it. Some teens hardly tell their parents anything. To just tell a teacher or parent out of the blue that you've been drinking or smoking isn't easy.

That's where testing in schools comes in. Most teens are usually very secretive. They don't expect adults to find anything out. But if schools were able to conduct alcohol and drug tests, they might be able to catch unsuspecting students in the act. Those students will be able to meet and talk with parents and counselors about drugs. They will start to become more open toward adults. They will realize what they did was wrong, and they will probably never do it again.

Things like that can change students' lives. They will realize, after they stop drinking or smoking, who their real friends are. They will start to do better in school and in after-school activities. Instead of being a closed book, they will be open to parents, teachers and friends.

There's no doubt that high schools should conduct random tests for alcohol and other drugs. If students are caught taking drugs or drinking, it will make their lives take a turn for the better.

Patrick Carnevale, Seventh Grade

Grades 9-12

First Place: A Lucky Draw On Drug Test

Round and round the wheel goes, who will get picked nobody knows. Our first contestant will be the valedictorian of our school. Like every other test she takes, I'm sure she'll pass this one, too. Next, we have the average student, whose fate we will soon find out. And last on our show today will be the "druggie" who is just glad to get out of class. Welcome to the Random Drug Testing Show.

Random drug testing takes away our rights as American citizens. The Fourth Amendment states "the right of people against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated." Random drug testing violates this right.

Besides taking away our civil rights, drug testing is costly. The Dublin Board of Education in Ohio spent $70,000 to test 1,473 students over two years, with only 20 positive results. Public schools could find better uses for this money.

Are drug tests really effective? Students have come up with a variety of ways to pass drug tests. According to students at Rushville High School in Indiana, putting salt or a strand of hair with hair spray in your urine sample will make you come out clean. Barely anyone is ever caught there. Random drug testing just promotes the use of different and even more dangerous drugs. Instead of smoking marijuana, which can stay in your body up to 30 days, students will drink alcohol and take Ecstasy, which stays in your body for only a few hours.

To the most prevalent users of drugs, is a random test a deterrent? Those students who use drugs frequently are less likely to give up just because of the chance of being found out.

To conclude our show, let's spin the wheel. The druggie wins the spin. Since he never thought he would win, this did not deter him from the use of alcohol and Ecstasy this past weekend. However, he was lucky with his choice of drugs. They have left his system. Did we just prove that he was not a druggie, or did we just fail to confirm what was already known or suspected? Now he's in the clear for he won't be tested again for a long time. Let's look for a better way.

Colleen Clare, 11TH Grade

Second Place: Random Testing Can Be Lifesaver

The crackdown on illegal drugs and underage drinking in high schools involves testing students in school, randomly, for any traces of drugs and/or alcohol. Do school administrations have the right to test students randomly? They do, and they should, because random testing protects the safety of students, enforces the law and is a practical course of action to reduce use of drugs and alcohol.

Possibly the most important reason is the safety of students. Drugs and alcohol pose a threat to the lives of students who use them, as well as others around them. These substances not only lead to serious health problems but also to death. By testing and informing students, maybe a life can be saved.

In 2002, the Supreme Court declared random drug testing constitutional. It is the obligation of high schools to protect and enforce the law. Schools can't afford to be a "safe haven" for illegal substances, and they can't impose an "if we don't know, it didn't happen" attitude. High schools have to send a clear message: They will not tolerate their students doing anything illegal.

Random testing is a practical way to reduce the use of drugs and underage drinking among students. Students have nothing to fear if they are not using drugs or alcohol.

If we, as a society, want to stop drug and alcohol use among teenagers, considering the safety of students, the law, and the goal of reducing substance use, there is no controversy. High schools should conduct random tests. If not, drugs and underage alcohol use might as well be legal.

Christopher Finan, 10TH Grade

Third Place: It Isn't Fair To Be Singled Out

I am sitting here trying to imagine that I am a student who smokes marijuana on occasion. On a Monday morning, I am being pulled out of class to participate in random drug testing. I am especially nervous remembering Saturday night, when I happened to smoke with a few friends.

I sit in the bathroom in the nurse's office and stare nervously at the cup into which I now must urinate. Why is my privacy being invaded? I wasn't on school grounds. I am not a bad kid, but everyone will believe differently after this cup enlightens them of my actions.

I am now ashamed of myself. I can't look my parents or teachers in the eye. All they see in me is a pothead and a disappointment. My parents don't trust me, and the news of my having tested positive has spread throughout the school, causing students I don't even know to whisper and giggle as I pass them in the hallway. I know they have done it, too, and have just not been caught. It isn't fair that I have been singled out. Every day, all I do now is go to the school and come home. I take part in no extracurricular activities and am prohibited from leaving my house on the weekends.

I am not directly affected by this issue. But I still see the wrong in random drug testing in schools. It will strip students of their dignity. It exhibits the school's desire to control what you do, even when you are not on school grounds, leaving no freedom. Random drug testing in schools would be embarrassing to drug users and non-drug users alike.

Danielle Pacelli, 12TH Grade

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