Middle school students to be drug tested
Students returning to the Belvidere School District in New Jersey for their second semester in January, 2011 have a new rule to follow. The school board extended the random drug testing policy that applies to its high schools to grades 6 through 8.
The vote was 9 to 2 with the majority viewing the policy as a necessary deterrent to drug possession and use among its students. The board explained that the tests are not about punishment but a chance to educate the middle schoolers about the dangers of drug use. Some parents and teachers feel that it will give students an easy-out when pressured to use. They can say “No, I don’t want to do this – I’m afraid I’ll be tested tomorrow.”
There is no penalty attached to the policy and the parents and student must consent to participate in the program. If a student tests positive, there is no discipline imposed by the school or report to the police. Counseling will be offered or a referral to a rehabilitation facility if appropriate. The drug tests check for marijuana, cocaine, opioids, amphetamines and PCP. Additional testing may be requested.
Since 1995, public schools have been allowed to randomly drug test student athletes (the James Acton case). In 2002, the Supreme Court extended the testing policy to include all students participating in extracurricular activities (the Lindsay Earls case).
What do you think about drug testing middle school students? Is this too young? Will it help deter these students from using drugs? Do you know any kids as young as 11 (6th grade) that are experimenting with drugs and alcohol? If you’re concerned, what can you do?