Is Random Drug Testing a Good Approach?

Random Drug Testing to Start at a Middle School

Middle schoolers in Lacey Twp, New Jersey, will be asked to submit to random drug tests starting in January 2017. Superintendent Craig Wigley said he expects that about 700 of the school’s 1,000 students are expected to participate in the program.

This initiative is noteworthy, since these types of efforts are not usually directed at such young people. Parents must enroll their seventh and eighth graders in the program, which is voluntary.

Consequences for Failing Drug Tests

The consequence for failing a random drug test would be removal from sports and extracurricular activities for 10 days. Failing a test a second time would mean a 45-day suspension from these activities. Failing a test a third time would mean a longer suspension.

Students who fail a drug test would be sent for counseling. Parents would be informed, and they would be given additional drug tests.

New Jersey Drug Death Statistics

The idea for having students undergo drug testing stems from a desire to curb the epidemic of drug use affecting the country. Since 2012, Ocean County, drug death rate has more than tripled. Approximately 180 people have died in the county in 2016 due to drug overdoses. The pattern has repeated itself across The Garden State, where deaths attributed to drug overdoses have increased by 16 percent between 2014-2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The program will be modeled after a similar drug testing program used in Lacey Township High School. In it, students who would like to participate in extracurricular activities, attend dances, play sports or park on school property must agree to undergo random drug testing.

The drug testing will be conducted by School Safe Testing Service. The Powell, Ohio, company has already billed Lacey Township School District more than $10,000.00 since January 2016 for its services.

AAP Against Drug Testing on Adolescents

It is unclear if this will be a thorough deterrent or form of intervention. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has gone on record against random drug testing in schools. The Academy has stated that there is a lack of evidence that these programs work and that there are few positive test results found among students. The Academy has questioned whether drug testing is wise, given the limited amount of funds available for school resources. It felt that a better use of available money would be to provide counseling and support to students identified as having drug problems.