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Drug Testing in Schools: Evidence, Impacts and Alternatives

NCJ Number
Ann M. Roche; Ken Pidd; Petra Bywood; Vinita Duraisingam; Tania Steenson; Toby Freeman; Roger Nicholas
Date Published
September 2007
202 pages
This study examined issues surrounding drug detection and screening in the school setting in Australia.
The results indicate a strong case against drug detection and screening strategies within the public school setting. Key findings include: most drug tests are not reliable for testing in schools; the high cost of the drug testing program will be more than a public school budget can bear; a wide range of moral and legal issues act as serious concerns, if not impediments; prevalence of illicit drug use by school children has been declining for over a decade with current levels of regular use at a low mark, making detection a technically challenging task; highest prevalence of drug use occurs among high-risk and vulnerable groups of children, including the poorer academic performers and indigenous students, indicating that punitive and inquisitorial methods of deterrence are ill-advised; drug testing is an ineffective deterrence mechanism; two-thirds of submissions received from professionals and the majority of survey respondents were opposed to drug testing in schools; interventions should focus on building positive relations and developing pupils' sense of connectedness with the school; and currently, effective mechanisms now exist to target and intervene in appropriate ways with high-risk students and their families. Tables, references, and appendixes A-E