Doctors advise against school drug testing

Filed under: Teens, Health & Safety: Babies, Alcohol & Drugs

When Christy was a teenager, I would have done anything to protect her from the dangers of the world and her own bad judgment. While I know now that her struggles did not involve drugs, there was a time when I was not so sure. If the option to have her drug-tested had been available, I probably would have done it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is now advising against the practice of schools drug testing kids. Besides being inaccurate, they say the testing can result in kids using even more dangerous drugs; avoiding marijuana and turning to substances such as alcohol, inhalants and Ecstasy, which are not detectable with standard drug testing.

They also claim that drug testing does not curtail drug use and that kids know about the many methods available for defeating the tests. A quick search on the Internet results in pages of advice and products designed to expressly for that purpose.

They also warn of the "resentment, distrust and suspicion" that drug testing creates between kids and those who would test them. What is at issue, according to the doctors, is the lack of substance abuse and mental health programs suitable for the treatment of children. The report suggests that a more appropriate response to a parent's suspicions of drug or alcohol use would be to consult the family physician.

It seems to me that by the time a parent gets scared enough to resort to drug testing, the "distrust and suspicion" is already there. Of course education is an important tool in keeping kids away from drugs, and at six years old Ellie already knows about the dangers. But if the message didn't take and I thought she was dabbling in them, I think I would not hesitate to test her. What about you? Would you drug test your kid?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.