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Reasons for Student Drug Testing

From the Drug Free America Website

  • Testing gives students a chance to say "no" when approached to use drugs.
  • Random drug testing applies only to students who voluntarily choose to participate in athletic and extracurricular activities. Student athletes and students in extracurricular activities take leadership roles in the school community and, as role models, should be drug free. Student drug testing helps ensure this. The courts have permitted this because these are voluntary activities that the schools can set conditions on.
  • It is critical to deter drug use during school years because kids on dope can't learn. If kids can't learn, how will they succeed in life? Random drug testing deters student drug use as it deters drug use in the workplace.
  • Random student drug testing is important because children become addicted more rapidly than adults and their recovery is less likely.
  • Students have a right to safe and drug-free learning environments. School administrators need reasonable tools to stop drug users and drug dealers from ruining school for everyone.
  • Testing gives parents an opportunity for intervention and treatment. Parents have the right to send their kids to drug-free schools. The thought of sending their kids to a school where drugs are rampant scares parents. Drug testing helps keep our kids safe.
  • The intent of this program is not to punish students. The goal is for the drug user to straighten his or her life out. The schools use drug testing as a tool to deter drug use and help students to get drug education and/or counseling. The results are not turned over to law enforcement.
  • Drug testing is a standard procedure that most people will experience at some point in their lives either at their doctor's office or when applying for a job. Certainly, athletes who want to compete at the collegiate or Olympic level should get used to the idea of drug testing.

Is drug testing expensive?

For the result achieved, drug testing is very inexpensive. For example, it is estimated we spend $700 on equipment to protect a football player. A drug test only costs somewhere between $10 and $30 and provides protection for the football player's health. Any school that receives
federal education funding is permitted to use federal funds for drug testing. A recent federal  law entitled "The Leave No Child Behind Act" (HR 1) specifically authorizes the expenditure of federal education funds for student drugs testing.

Is this program fair to all students?

Schools want to be proactive in preventing drug use among students. Drug testing is a proven deterrent to illicit drug use. Kids know they have nothing to worry about if they don't use illegal drugs. It couldn't be a simpler or fairer system.

Are the tests accurate and confidential?

If schools follow basic drug testing procedures students will donate the urine specimen in a private rest room area and there are strict confidentiality procedures that govern the transportation of the specimen and the releasing of test results. No one wants to unfairly accuse a student of drug use. The drug testing procedures in place today eliminate the possibility of a false positive. First, there is a screening test that is then confirmed by a more sensitive test. If the confirmation test is positive it is then reviewed by a physician trained in drug testing who then contacts the student to see if there is a legitimate medical reason for the positive test.

Doesn't drug testing create an accusatory attitude that will breed distrust or further alienate students and adults?

It's not a trust issue, it's a health and safety issue. As we said when dealing with the Soviet Union during the Cold War - "trust but verify. We are talking about kids here. We must protect them. Schools that have drug testing programs report that the school atmosphere becomes more positive. In addition, drug test results are used for counseling purposes and are not turned over to law enforcement.

Will students who test positive have their future prospects in college and in the workplace compromised by the test results?

No. Drug test results are kept confidential and federal law prevents them from being released outside the school. The results do not follow the student once he or she leaves high school. See, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Why test athletes and students in extracurricular activities? Doesn't this discourage students from participating in extracurricular activities and sports?

The experience of the schools who implement drug testing show that students do not stop being athletes or participating in extracurricular activities. In fact, many report these experiences improve because they are drug free.

By testing athletes and student in extracurricular activities aren't you testing the wrong kids?

Experience shows even athletes and students involved in extracurricular activities use illegal drugs. Schools that test athletes and students in extracurricular activities experience an overall decline in drug use among all students. This is in part due to the role model effect that kids will follow leaders such as athletes and students in extracurricular activities. Schools that test also have a decline in drug use incidents. Violence and other disruptions decrease and the faculty feels less threatened because students are not using drugs. Students and faculty report better morale. Athletic performance is enhanced by being drug and alcohol free.

Why test kids in the chess club or the choir?

In order for the testing to have the best deterrent effect we must reach as may kids as possible. It is naive to think that kids in the chess club or the choir do not use drugs.