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Random Drug Testing in our Schools

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Drug use amongst young people is an increasing trend, yet the public
perception of the suitability / effectiveness of random drugs testing at
school is relatively uncertain. This article contains statistics and the
results of several important studies.

drug, drugs, alcohol, test, tests, testing, kit, kits, screen, screening,
substance, abuse, misuse, workplace, employee, employment, home, school,
teen, teenage, children, urine, awareness, aware

Article Body:
Drug use amongst young people is an increasing trend, yet the public
perception of the suitability / effectiveness of random drugs testing at
school is relatively uncertain. Such testing takes place quite rarely in
the UK, in spite of it being a more common practice in the USA.

The average starting age for heroin use in many cities in the UK is just
15, and a survey of over 20,000 UK school children showed that 9% of 13
year olds and over a quarter (27%) of 15 year olds had used an illegal
drug at some point in their lives. So there is clearly a need for more
assertive intervention at an early age.

Parents face the growing concern that their teenager may already be
taking drugs, or that they are in an environment where they are exposed
to those who will offer them drugs, especially Cannabis / Marijuana. The
frightening reality is that this environment may be their school.

In order to learn more about drug use (and in particular Cannabis /
Marijuana supply and young people), 182 young people who were Cannabis /
Marijuana users aged between 11 and 19 were interviewed for a study
published in January 2008 by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The sample
included both city dwellers and young people from rural villages. Half
of the young people had taken cannabis into school or college and 43 per
cent said that they used cannabis whilst at school or college. It is
clear from the report that the majority of these young people purchase
cannabis from their friends or relatives and in turn supply their friends
in a new wave of ‘social’ and ‘not-for-profit’ drug-taking which is a
departure from the typical dealer-user scenario. One young interviewee
told researchers that the people who sold her Cannabis / Marijuana
included ‘friends from school’ and shows how combining drug-use with
normal social networking is having the effect of normalising the act of
taking drugs.

However, a recent study by Neil McKeganey, Professor of Drug Misuse
Research at Glasgow University, demonstrates that random drug testing in
schools is a more complex and controversial issue than one would at first
imagine. Questions arise over matters including cost, ethical issues
such as what would happen in the event that a pupil tested positive for
drugs and what ‘punishment’ or deterrent would be appropriate, concerns
that pupils may switch from easily detectable drugs to more harmful drugs
in order to avoid detection, and the probability that a trusting
relationship between staff and pupil would be damaged and encourage a
culture of concealment. Furthermore, it is possible that enforcing
random drug testing of pupils would conflict with the UN Charter on the
Rights of the Child or the European Charter on Human Rights.

Whilst acknowledging the obvious need for drug prevention, it appears
that further research and data collection is necessary to evaluate the
effectiveness of drug screening within schools.

In spite of this, results from an ICM Research poll which previously
appeared in the News of the World on Sunday demonstrated that 82% of
parents and 66% of children support drug testing in schools and of the
1,000 parents surveyed, 96% said they would want to know if their son or
daughter was taking drugs.

So what can be done?

In the absence of a drug-testing programme at school or college, anxious
parents, guardians or caregivers who have concerns about teenagers or
young people using drugs are able to conduct a drug test in the privacy
of the home. These home drug test kits are used daily by professionals
in the healthcare industry and one test can provide easy to read results
in minutes for a variety of different drugs. This includes the most
common drugs, such as Cannabis / Marijuana, Cocaine, Amphetamines,
Benzodiazepines, Opiates, Methadone and Methamphetamines (including

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