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Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators Are Saying No, Second Edition

NCJ Number
Jennifer Kern; Fatema Gunja; Alexandra Cox; Marsha Rosenbaum Ph.D.; Judith Appel J.D.; Anjuli Verma
Date Published
January 2006
36 pages
This booklet demonstrates the key flaws in random student drug testing and the components of promising alternatives.
Reasons found through comprehensive, rigorous, and respected research on why random student drug testing is not good policy include: (1) drug testing is not effective in deterring drug use among young people; (2) drug testing is expensive; (3) drug testing can be legally risky, exposing schools to potentially costly litigation; (4) drug testing drives students away from extracurricular activities, which are a proven means of helping students stay out of trouble with drugs; (5) drug testing can undermine trust between students and teachers, and between parents and children; (6) drug testing can result in false positives; (7) drug testing does not effectively identify students who have serious problems with drugs; and (8) drug testing may lead to unintended consequences, such as students using drugs, like alcohol, that are more dangerous but less detectable by a drug test. There are alternatives to drug testing that emphasize education, discussion, counseling and extracurricular activities, and that build trust between students and adults. Examples of these alternatives include: engage students in after-school programs, incorporate reality-based drug education into the school curriculum, provide counseling, allow students to be assess and treated by healthcare professionals, encourage parents to become better informed, and cultivate trust and respect among students and adults. 52 endnotes