Drug testing in schools is often employed to prevent students from the use of illegal substances; however, new research has revealed that these checkups are actually ineffective in dissuading teens from trying drugs.
According to Counsel and Heal, approximately 20 percent of high schools in the United States utilize drug testing, usually to screen students participating in sports and after-school clubs per Fox News.In a new study published in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, researchers interviewed 361 students, a third of whom say they have a drug policy at their school. Through these reports, the scientists said they did not find any evidence that drug testing helped prevent students from trying drugs. They also noted that students from schools where drug testing is employed were just as likely to try illegal substances as students from schools without drug testing.
“Even though drug testing sounds good, based on the science, it’s not working,” said study author Daniel Romer, of the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center in Philadelphia. “So as a prevention effort, school drug testing is kind of wrong-headed.”
Though, the researchers did find an effective drug deterrent for students. They found that a positive school environment, one with clear rules and good student-teacher relationships, helped prevent teens from using drugs. Students enrolled in schools in a positive climate were 15 percent less likely to smoke cigarettes and 20 percent less likely to use marijuana.
Despite these findings, the researchers reported that student’s alcohol intake was not influenced by a positive climate. In the second interview, the researchers found that approximately two-thirds of the students said they have tried alcohol.
“The whole culture uses alcohol,” Romer said. “And you’re fighting something that has widespread marketing behind it. It’s a real problem…and right now we’re not doing enough to address it.”
Should drug testing in schools continue? Studies point to no.