SmackDown: Should There Be Random Drug Testing in Middle School?

Filed under: Opinions

How young is too young for random drug testing? Illustration by Dori Hartley


Paranoid Police State for My 12-year-Old? My Wrath Will Scare Her Straight, Not Random Drug Testing


by Dori Hartley

Let's jump right to the point: Drugs suck.

You know it, I know it, and, if you're any kind of good parent, you have had "the drugs-are-bad talk" with your kid, using meaningful dialogue -- none of that mamby-pamby, beating around the bush stuff.

You sat down with your middle schoolers, and let them know, in no uncertain terms, that not only are drugs "old school," but partaking in them will guarantee their lives will suck, as well.

"Drugs will make you an idiot. Got it, kid?"

"I know, Mom. But I hear that some of the other kids have done them."

"Well, then, I guess those kids have no intentions of doing anything other than being bums for the rest of their lives. First goes their skin. Then, of course, there's the damage caused to their internal organs. But that's nothing compared to what it's like to become addicted. Hoo boy, once you get that addict look, oh, you can just watch your friends flee. Lonely business, being a junkie. Come here, kid, let me show you some online photos of what happens to the nose of a cocaine abuser ..."

On occasion, driving a little fear into your child's mind can go a long distance -- and be quite positive. Paranoia can be useful. Knowledge is power, after all, and a child who knows the dangers of drug abuse is a child who will be less inclined to dabble.

But, when I read about a New Jersey town's intention to randomly drug test sixth, seventh and eighth graders in its public school, I wasn't as gung-ho to board the paranoia train as some might expect.

According to this Belvidere, N.J., school plan, 12-year-olds -- kids my own daughter's age -- would go to school knowing that at any moment someone in a position of authority could remove them from class and perform a random drug check.

I get the good intention here. Kids will be so worried about being plucked from their algebra classes to be drug tested that they'll be too intimidated to join in on the doobie-smoking in the parking lot.

But what about the kids who have absolutely no desire whatsoever to indulge in the stupidity known as recreational drugs?

If something like this were to become the national standard, middle schoolers would have even more to worry about beyond their already heavy load of concern over getting good grades, completing their homework assignments on time and figuring out who they are as young people amongst their peers.

They would have to live with the unhealthy paranoia that, at any given moment, they could be selected for a drug test.

As much as I believe drugs are the downfall of our society, I also believe living in the constant consciousness of paranoia can be too much for a kid. I'm all for the idea of campaigning against drugs. I'm thrilled with the idea of promoting a drug-free school environment. I'm just not sure the policed state of "guilty until proven innocent" is going to smoothly flow within the curriculum of learning.

I don't want my kid drug tested. She won't be doing drugs because I won't let that happen. Think that's not a possibility? Think I'm being naive? Watch me.

Because, drugs, like cigarettes, are not something I will tolerate on any level. And, should my child even try, she will see what anger really looks like.

And the wrath of Mom? That won't be random.


Random Drug Testing Not Only Does No Harm, It Offers Kids a Way Out From Peer Pressure Tactics


by Jessica Samakow

If curiosity killed the cat, it was probably death by drug overdose.

From an early age, kids are repeatedly told how harmful drugs are and, that by trying them -- even once -- the effects can be dangerous, if not deadly.

So, naive children can't help but wonder, why do people do drugs, anyway?

The immediate answer received from their best friend's older brother: "Because they make you feel awesome."

That's when kids are faced with the big decision: To try drugs or not to try drugs. Sure, we could sit here praising the "good" kids whose morals keep them from going down that road. But, in reality, most kids who just say no are really just afraid of getting caught.

So, what if there was a way to increase the likeliness of getting caught? Wouldn't fewer kids take the risk?

A New Jersey school district is proposing to conduct random drug tests on middle school students, CBS reports. Naysayers are speaking out against it, but random drug testing is an effective method of prevention. The tests aren't accusatory, they simply give kids one more reason to stay away from drugs.

Besides curiosity, kids often try drugs because of peer pressure. As the joint is passed their way at a party, friends encourage them to take a puff. "Everyone is doing it," they say. And, if you don't inhale, you're a wimp. A loser.

In response, some kids might ask, "But what if I get caught?"

"Oh, no worries," their peers will try to convince them. "You won't, as long as you're careful."

But here's the thing: If those kids knew they had to face random drug testing at school, the concerns of hesitant kids are suddenly totally valid.

As one teacher explains to CBS, it gives them an easy way out.

Those who disagree with random drug testing say it goes against our basic "rights" as Americans. They claim it's a violation of privacy, and always ask, "What about being innocent until proven guilty?" What they fail to remember is, while in school, kids don't have "basic rights."

Take the First Amendment. During school hours, kids are not allowed to say anything they want, as promised by free speech. They are not allowed to wear whatever they want, either, despite freedom of expression.

Why not raise issues about these "violations?" Because it's understood that rules need to be set in schools in order to maintain appropriate conduct. Parents appreciate that limiting their child's rights in school makes for a safer learning environment.

So, why is drug testing, which, really, can do no harm, any different?

The argument might arise that kids need to learn to make their own decisions. You can't drug test them forever, after all, and eventually they will have to use their own judgment when making choices.

Sure, but do you allow middle schoolers to choose whether or not to go to school? Of course not. Do you let them eat whatever they want, whenever they want? The answer is probably no. Do they get to decide, since they hate math, that they just won't take any class that deals with numbers? Yeah, right.

When they get to college, they will gain these freedoms. But does that mean no limitations or boundaries should be set when they're young? No way.

You make decisions for your kids now, hoping they will learn to make the right ones for themselves later on. If you monitor their attendance, food choices and class schedules, why wouldn't you choose to monitor their drug usage, as well?

And, to the kids stomping their feet in defiance of random drug testing, what, exactly, are you trying to hide?

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