Tuesday, October 23, 2012

News U Can Use: "Middle School Student Drug Testing?"

Should Middle School Students Be Drug Tested?

Schools in several states now require drug testing for students who want to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities, starting in middle school. Do you think this is a good idea? Why or why not?
In "Middle Schools Add a Team Rule: Get a Drug Test," Mary Pilon looks at both sides of the issue:
Olympic athletes must submit urine samples to prove they are not doping. The same is true for Tour de France cyclists, N.F.L. players, college athletes and even some high school athletes. Now, children in grades as low as middle school are being told that providing a urine sample is required to play sports or participate in extracurricular activities like drama and choir.
Such drug testing at the middle school level is confounding students and stirring objections from parents and proponents of civil liberties.
... Some coaches, teachers and school administrators said drug-testing programs served as a deterrent for middle school students encountering drugs of all kinds, including steroids, marijuana and alcohol.
"We wanted to do it to create a general awareness of drug prevention," said Steve Klotz, assistant superintendent at Maryville School District in Missouri. "We're no different than any other community. We have kids who are making those decisions."
There are no known instances of a middle school student testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs like steroids or human growth hormone. The few positive results among middle school students have been attributed to marijuana, officials said, and even those cases are rare.
... "It starts early with kids," said Matthew Franz, who owns the drug testing company Sport Safe based in Columbus, Ohio, and is a member of the Student Drug-Testing Coalition, an organization of drug-testing proponents. "You want to get in there and plant these seeds of what's out there and do prevention early. The 11th and 12th graders, most of them have already made a choice. But the eighth graders, they're still making decisions, and it helps if you give them that deterrent."
  • Do you believe, as Mr. Franz does, that testing students in middle school will keep them from using drugs? If so, is high school "too late" to use testing as a deterrent? Why or why not?
  • Do you believe schools should test their students for drugs? If so, at what age should the testing begin?
  • Do you think drug testing is an invasion of privacy? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think some schools require drug tests for all extracurricular activities?
Students 13 and older are invited to comment below. Please use only your first name. For privacy policy reasons, we will not publish student comments that include a last name.
Teachers: We ask a new Student Opinion question each weekday, and leave most open to comment indefinitely. Here is a list of the 163 questions we asked during the 2011-12 school year.