Pubdate: Thu, 22 Feb 2007
Source: Advance Titan (UW  Oshkosh, WI Edu)
Copyright: 2007 Advance Titan
Author: Teresa Puschnig
Bookmark: (Drug Test)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Middle And High Schools Should Adopt New Policy To Combat Growing Problem

It seems like kids these days are growing up too  quickly. At the 
risk of sounding like an old lady at  the age of 23, I have to admit 
that I think young  people are engaging in sexual activity and the 
use of drugs and alcohol way earlier than my peers did when I  was in 
middle and high school. Drugs and alcohol  existed in the lives of 
some middle-school aged  students when I was younger, but they 
weren't as prevalent as they seem to be in many schools 
today.  Because of the changing patterns in society and 
the  activities of younger generations, school policy  alterations 
need to be made to accommodate.

An article from in late January stated  that the White 
House Office of National Drug Control  Policy announced it will hold 
four regional summits to  promote random student drug testing in 
public middle  and high schools. The program requires children to 
submit to random drug testing if they want to  participate in 
competitive extracurricular activities  like sports or debate. It has 
already been implemented  in nearly 1,000 middle and high schools 
across the  country and has proven thus far to be quite a controversial topic.

It would be difficult for someone to come up with an  idea better 
than this policy to combat drug use in  middle and high schools. Many 
students enjoy  participating in athletics and other competitive 
extracurricular activities, and if they know there is  the chance of 
being randomly selected for a drug test,  they will be less likely to 
engage in behavior that  will get them removed from those clubs or 
teams.  Participating in extracurriculars is seen as a  privilege, 
and if students know there is a possibility  of that being taken away 
they will, in most cases, act  in accordance with the rules.

A similar random drug testing policy takes place in the  military, 
and it has proven to reduce the amount of  drug use. When the 
military first began the testing  approximately 20 years ago, they 
found 27 percent  tested positive for drugs and the number has now 
shrunk  to 1.5 percent.

Don't get me wrong. I am in no way, shape or form  saying that we 
should treat middle and high school  students like members of the 
U.S. military. I simply  think we need stricter rules regarding drug 
use to produce more productive and competent classes of high  school 
graduates in the future. Many universities in  the UW System are 
seeking to increase enrollment as  part of their future growth plans, 
but how will they be  able to do so if the graduates of Wisconsin 
public  schools are unprepared for college due to the  drug-ridden 
activities they chose to participate in  during middle and/or high 
school? For years statistics  have shown that kids who partake in 
illegal activities  and abuse drugs are less likely to receive good 
grades  and continue their educations. It's most certainly not  a 
secret and it's not a statistic that will likely  change anytime soon.

While I think the random drug testing policy is the  best recent 
solution to a growing drug problem, I don't  think adopting it in the 
majority of our middle and  high schools is going to get rid of the 
drug problems  completely. There are always going to be students who 
choose not to participate in extracurricular activities  because they 
would rather smoke marijuana or the new  trendy drug. There are also 
going to be parents who  disapprove of the policy if their child is 
singled out  and tests positive for drugs. Both students and parents 
need to realize that the consequences for students who  fail random 
drug tests definitely aren't as harsh as  they could be. It's not 
like the policy is suggesting  that every student who tests positive 
should be sent to  juvenile hall or be subject to consequences 
regarding  his or her education. The penalties could be worse.

Random drug testing in schools will let students know  that if they 
make poor decisions regarding drugs,  certain privileges will be 
taken away from them. It  will not only be a deterrent for drug use 
among students, it will be a way to reach out to those who do  abuse 
drugs by identifying them and being able to offer  help and support.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman