Tom Angell is communications director for Students for Sensible Drug Policy. He recently responded to a Kentucky school’s decision to implement a random, suspicionless drug testing program for all student athletes. Here’s an excerpt:
School officials should welcome these at-risk students into the positive atmospheres provided by team sports, especially during the crucial hours between the end of the school day and the time their parents come home from work.æ Instead, drug testing programs turn students toward the streets, where they’ll be more likely to experiment with drugs.æ
Yanking at-risk students out of their after-school activities and deterring others from joining could have the unintended consequence of worsening an existing drug problem in the student body.æ Indeed, the U.S.æ Department of Education and Department of Justice published a report in 1998 underscoring the importance of extracurricular involvement in crime and drug-use reduction among adolescents.æ Why would school boards want to further alienate the young people who need their help the most?
Forcing students into bathroom stalls while school officials listen for the sounds of urination greatly damages the relationships of trust that are so crucial in our schools.æ Students should feel that they can approach adults if they have problems with drugs or are experiencing other hardships of being teenagers.æ Instead, the “gotcha” attitude that is fostered by drug testing isolates students and deters them from seeking the help and advice they might need.
Read the whole thing. And if a school district in your area considers drug testing, use this as a guide to write your own letter or OpEd.