Students in a Wisconsin high school are going to be subjected to random drug testing. Come fall of this year, students of Marinette County High School will have their student identification numbers held in a lottery system by a local medical facility; 10 names will be drawn every month and those students will be required to take a drug test, like a 5 panel drug test. This decision was made by Jeff Dorschner, the school’s Athletic Director, who believes this will help students stay away from drugs. Wisconsin is very different than Washington in many ways though the prospect of randomized testing becoming commonplace anywhere is a scary one.
Of course, marijuana is only legal for those who are 21 years of age and older in Washington. Therefore, students in high school are not old enough to legally smoke marijuana but it is ignorant to believe this stops them from doing so. Furthermore, many students do use drugs responsibly and find they enhance their high school experience as well as help them better understand themselves.
While there are numerous arguments that could be made against this new rule, some highlights come to mind. One detail is particularly disturbing: students who wish to participate in any extracurricular activities such as band or football must take and pass a drug test. Not only does a student possibly lose important outlets, he or she will also lose self-esteem due to a lack of trust from authoritative figures. Not to mention, randomly drug testing students is a serious invasion of privacy and a breach of student-adult trust.
Students who are worried about getting drug tested might want to consider taking a look at this full guide on synthetic urine. With services like this readily available online, it is unlikely that random drug testing will even work. It could just be a waste of everyone’s time.
It is one thing to drug test a minor if he or she is suffering serious academic failure or is not treating him or herself, or others, with respect. Even under these circumstances, a test should only be done to help the student make healthier decisions for his or her personal health, rather than to promote a system of unnecessary and intrusive control. The faculty and other authoritative figures in Wisconsin argue that its new drug testing rule is intended to help students make better decisions and help with peer pressure, and it is by no means a way to get them in trouble legally. Even though I am at an age well beyond high school, I still strongly feel that convincing a minor to make better decisions has nothing to do with controlling their environment but everything to do with actively respecting their privacy, facilitating open dialogue and trusting that they are not going to ruin their future.
Let’s hope that this negative impact on students does not make its way to the west. Instead, let’s create a welcoming and understanding environment for all people to feel empowered to make the best decisions for their and their loved ones’ lives. Open dialogue about drugs and how they may positively and negatively impact lives, rather than a system of fear surrounding them, will make every difference in the lives of students. Facts will be shared, advice given and love emitted. Let’s stay away from control by fear and lean towards education and trust.
What are your thoughts on randomized drug testing in high school settings? Do you believe testing would be overall negative or positive for students? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!