Children as young as 11 face random drug testing in Belvidere, New Jersey, and the news has people talking across the country. The Board of Education approved the plan for Oxford Street School on Wednesday, and apparently many parents support the idea, even though no drug or alcohol abuse has ever been reported there.
The program is voluntary – both parents and children must sign up. If a child tests positive for drugs, he or she will get counseling. School officials promise no suspensions and no police reports. Principal Sandra Szabocsik thinks it will be a deterrent, telling WCBS-TV, “We’re hoping that the students, if they’re at a party or someone’s house or just hanging out somewhere, that they’ll say ‘I don’t want to get involved in drinking or using any drug because tomorrow could be a drug testing day,”
Random drug testing in schools is nothing new. Despite privacy concerns, more than 4,200 junior and senior high schools are testing kids, according to a 2007 CDC survey. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that suspicionless, routine and random drug tests for middle and high school students participating in extracurricular activities are a reasonable way to protect children. (Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County et al. v. Earls et al.).
The number of kids using drugs is on the rise, according to the 2010 Monitoring the Future survey, from the University of Michigan and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Researchers asked 46,000 kids nationwide if they had used any illicit drugs during the past year. Look at how many said YES:
- 8th graders – 16%
- 10th graders – 30%
- 12th graders – 38%