Author Topic: SCHOOLS' DRUG TESTS DON'T CURB DRUG USE, STUDY SAYS  (Read 1296 times)

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Offline Antigen

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SCHOOLS' DRUG TESTS DON'T CURB DRUG USE, STUDY SAYS
« on: May 18, 2003, 04:37:00 PM »
Anyone really surprised by this? So... how come DATIA members are raking in $6Bn/yr (according to Betty Sembler's remarks at the 2000 Drug Summit, hosted by DFAF) in public funding and legally mandated private funding?

Can you say SNAKE OIL?


Newshawk: http://www.journeyforjustice.org
Pubdate: Sat, 17 May 2003
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Section: Nation/World
Webpage: http://www.tampatrib.com/News/MGA0M754TFD.html
Copyright: 2003, The Tribune Co.
Contact: http://tampatrib.com/opinion/lettertotheeditor.htm
Website: http://www.tampatrib.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/446
Note: Limit LTEs to 150 words
Author: Greg Winter of New York Times

SCHOOLS' DRUG TESTS DON'T CURB DRUG USE, STUDY SAYS

Researchers Showed Surprise At Results

Drug testing in schools does not deter student drug use any more than doing  no screening at all, the first large-scale study on the subject has found.

The U.S. Supreme Court has twice empowered schools to test for drugs -  first among student athletes in 1995, then last year for those in other  extracurricular activities. Both times, it cited the role that screening  supposedly plays in combating substance abuse as a rationale for limiting  whatever privacy rights students might have.

But the new federally financed study of 76,000 students nationwide, by far  the largest to date, found that drug use is just as common in schools with  testing as in those without it.

"It suggests that there really isn't an impact from drug testing as  practiced," said Lloyd D. Johnston, a study researcher from the University  of Michigan. "It's the kind of intervention that doesn't win the hearts and  minds of children. I don't think it brings about any constructive changes  in their attitudes about drugs."

The prevalence of drug use in schools that tested for drugs and those that  did not was so similar that it surprised researchers, who have been paid by  the government to track student behavior for nearly 30 years and whose data  about adolescent drug use is considered highly reliable.

The study found that 37 percent of 12th graders in schools that tested for  drugs said they had smoked marijuana in the last year, for example,  compared with 36 percent in schools that did not. In a universe of tens of  thousands of students, such a slight deviation is statistically  insignificant and means the results are essentially identical, the  researchers said.

Similarly, 21 percent of 12th graders in schools with testing said they had  used other illicit drugs such as cocaine or heroin in the last year, while  19 percent of their counterparts in schools without screening said they had  done so.

The same pattern held true for every other drug and grade level the study  explored. Whether looking at marijuana or harder drugs such as cocaine and  heroin, or middle school students compared with high school students, the  fact that their schools tested for drugs showed no signs of curbing  students' drug use.

Although it is possible that schools that imposed screening had had higher  rates of drug use beforehand, the researchers said that was extremely  unlikely because they controlled for behavioral factors normally associated  with substance abuse, such as truancy and parental absence.

"Obviously, the justices did not have the benefit of this study," said  Graham Boyd, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union who argued the  case against drug testing before the Supreme Court last year. "Now there  should be no reason for a school to impose an intrusive or even insulting  drug test when it's not going to do anything about student drug use."

But other researchers contend that urinalysis conducted by schools is so  faulty, supervision so lax and opportunities for cheating so plentiful,  that the study may only prove schools do a poor job of testing.

"That's like blaming antibiotics if you didn't take them properly, or  blaming the doctor who prescribed them," said Linn Goldberg, a professor of  medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, who conducted a much more  limited study on two Oregon high schools last year. It found that  intensive, Olympic-grade testing could reduce drug use.

Still, Goldberg argued, even his study did not prove that testing limits  consumption.

Most schools have shied away from drug testing. The Michigan study,  published last month in The Journal of School Health, a peer-reviewed  publication of the American School Health Association, found that only 18  percent of the nation's schools did screening from 1998 to 2001, most of  them high schools.

Such tests do not violate the Fourth Amendment safeguards, the Supreme  Court has ruled, because children have limited expectations of privacy, the  tests are not overly intrusive and because they are likely to deter  substance abuse.

The Michigan study was financed through grants from the National Institute  on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, as well as the  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which supports drug testing in schools.

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.


--H.L. Mencken

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