Does random drug testing of students reduce drug use?
As we reported earlier, the U.S. States Deparment and Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) organized a regional conference in Budapest last December, where government officials attempted to convince their European colleagues to take into consideration the adoption of “best practices” from America, especially school drug testing, presented as a success story at the event. Since than, ONDCP have made further efforts to advertize random testing of students at other international gatherings, for example at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in March. Calvina Fay, the executive director of the Partnership for a Drug Free America made an emotional appeal to the Beyond 2008 global NGO forum this May, claiming that school drug testing is an evidence-based demand reduction tool. Unfortunately we cannot show you this speech because we were banned from showing films from the plenary (see our earlier blog and video on this issue), but we interviewed a couple of people about this controversial issue. Unfortunately only one supporter of school drug testing was willing to comment, other like-minded NGO delegates refused to give an interview. Opponents of drug testing argue in our video that to randomly drug test students and exclude them from extracurricular activites is not an effective and ethical way to protect young people from abusing drugs. They refer to a study conducted by researchers of the University of Michigan among 76.000 students. This study showes that drug use was not significantly lower in those schools where drug testing was applied, what is more, drug testing had some unintended consequences as well.
Posted by Peter Sarosi