November 15, 2016
The creators of the Park City High School newspaper, "The Prospector," sent an e-mail to students of the school on Tuesday, Oct. 25. The poll asked students whether or not they approved of implementing a drug-testing program at the school, which was described by the editorial "Student drug testing is a worthy effort" that was published in the Park Record on Oct. 14. As a junior at PCHS, I responded by answering that I approved of the proposal. After a discussion with my teacher and other students in my English class, however, I have amended my opinion on the matter.
Drug testing has the capability to do a lot of good, but it must be implemented effectively.
One of the issues my class discussed was what the reaction should be to a student who tests positive. This is the most important thing to consider when weighing the proposal to implement drug testing in the school. One thing we all must remember is that drug addiction cannot be cured with punishment. It is a disease, and should be treated as such. While proposed responses to a positive drug test like drug counseling are important, we must accept that while this may prevent drug addiction from starting, it will not cure it. Other responses, like suspension, will accomplish nothing but the alienation of sufferers or drug addiction and use. We must ensure that if we implement a policy of drug testing that we also allow for rehabilitation if it is necessary, as no amount of punishment can cure addiction.
When discussing this subject, we should also consider situations in which drug use may be present without the simultaneous presence of addiction. Whether this is because the substance is less addictive or because use of the drug has only begun recently, we must also consider how to proceed from discovering a situation like this. In this case, drug counseling and education may very well be effective. I believe that punishments like suspension from an activity or school, however, will also be ineffective in these cases. Consider this: drug use may create a more pleasant experience than participation in a favorite sport or activity would. Presumably, then, at least some people in this situation would be more tempted to continue using a discovered drug than to continue participating in a favored activity. Education on the harms of a drug would, in this case, likely be effective in preventing a more serious situation from developing. Expulsion from an activity, however, would likely be less effective.
Let me end this by saying that we must do something to protect children and teens from drugs, and that drug testing may be part of a very effective method of protecting them. We must, however, weigh other issues (such as privacy and the quality/reliability of tools used in drug testing) when deciding whether or not we should implement it, and if we decide we should, then we must carefully decide how we will implement them. This should be part of a larger deliberation on how we will protect my generation and the generations to come from the dangers of drugs.