Pubdate: Mon, 9 Jun 2003
Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin (HI)
Contact:  2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Author: Sidney M. Rosen
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Note: To read more about the "ice epidemic" in Hawaii, go to


The Star-Bulletin's June 5 editorial opposing drug testing in schools is
also my opinion. Ice is clearly a devastating drug. However, before we panic
and use it as an excuse to simply express outrage and flex our law-and-order
muscles, we might do well to temper our emotions with a few doses of wisdom.
Failure to be thoughtful may otherwise result in acts that give the
impression of doing something without changing anything at all. Testing may
also be harmful by giving the impression that all students are to be
regarded with suspicion.

Before getting into drug testing there are some things to consider. 

First, drug use is often symptomatic of other problems, including feelings
of despair and hopelessness. Second, teachers, counselors and vice
principals (to whom often falls the thankless task of disciplinarian)
already know who are the troubled students, thus, making drug testing a
redundancy. Third, the real purpose for drug testing should be clarified. Is
it to punish or help? Since Felix funding has sucked up so much treatment
money, almost nothing is left to help high-risk youth. Consequently, testing
may only lead to punishment for those who test dirty.

Law enforcement and punishment alone are clearly not the answers to the drug
problem. If a dent is to be made in the lucrative drug trade it will be
necessary to change the behaviors of customers and potential customers.

The experience of Adult Friends for Youth, which has applied its
redirectional method for 15 years on the turf of its destructive clients,
suggests that drug users can be reached and behavior can be changed. If
money is available for testing and incarceration it may do a lot more good
to apply it to a program that knows how to help students resolve their
problems and become productive people.

Sidney M. Rosen

Adult Friends for Youth
- ---
MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk