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January 29, 2014

Drug-testing dilemma

Environment bigger deterrent on drug use than drug testing, study says

Drug tests in school do little to deter marijuana use among teenagers, according to a recent study. The school’s climate, not punishment, plays a bigger role in prevention.

But a Francesville high school found that wasn’t necessarily the case.

The study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs looks at the effectiveness of drug testing in students. Drug testing was approved at West Central High School in September for sixth through 12th graders. The testing is mandatory for students who are in athletics, driver education, extracurricular activities, curriculum-related activities or students who drive to school.

The drug testing affects about 90 percent of the student body, Chuck Evans, West Central High School athletic director, said.

The test is given to six to eight kids every two weeks. Some 54 students have been tested at West Central so far this school year.

The drug testing has been largely accepted by students and parents. No one has tested positive since the drug testing began, Evans said.

Drug testing is implemented in 20 percent of private and public schools in the United State, the study said. Some drug tests, like at West Central High School, are required of students participating in sports or extracurricular activities and others are for students suspected to be using drugs.

Although the study finds drug tests alone don’t deter the use of drugs, the fact that the test at West Central is randomized does seem to help, Evans said.

“The unknown factor with the randomized testing is a deterrent,” Evans said. “I believe it has had an effect on drug use.”

The randomized drug testing also helps students who might be under peer pressure, Evans said.

“It gives students under peer pressure the ability to tell others they don’t want to participate because of the drug test,” Evans said.

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