$7.2 Million In Grants Awarded To Prevent Teen Drug Use
The release of Federal grants for schools to implement random student drug testing programs to help more young Americans avoid the trap of addiction have been announced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Department of Education.
Student drug testing grants extend the benefits of early intervention programs that have been proven in government, military, education, transportation, and private sector workplaces. Student drug testing is part of a balanced strategy that places appropriate emphasis on treatment, community action, and prevention.
“Parents and school administrators are not powerless against the drug problem. Random student drug testing is a powerful, proven tool that communities can use to prevent drug use and identify young people who have started on the path toward drug addiction,” said John Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “Drug testing makes our young people safer and helps shield them against a major public health threat that has ruined so many lives. While youth drug use is down 17 percent over the last three years, there are still too many teens using drugs. That is why we must continue to develop programs, such as random student drug testing that prevents use and provides needed treatment to those who have already begun.”
“Drug use interferes with a student’s ability to learn. It also disrupts the orderly environment necessary for all students to succeed. Reducing the likelihood of disruptive behaviors benefits everyone,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. “The 55 grants going to over 350 schools through this program are investing in a worthwhile and beneficial tool by helping to reduce the number of students who are using drugs.”
The U.S. Department of Education’s Student Drug Testing Demonstration Grants are part of the solution. Fifty-five grants were awarded to school districts that will go to fund random student drug testing programs in 352 schools. The competitive grant program supports schools in the design and implementation of a confidential and non-punitive program to randomly screen selected students and to intervene with assessment, referral, and intervention for students whose test results indicate they have used illicit drugs.
Schools must evaluate the effectiveness of their programs as a provision of receiving a grant. Drug testing should be one part of a broad prevention program that also includes intervention and treatment. The expectation that they may be randomly tested is enough to make some students stop using drugsor never start. Drug testing creates a culture of disapproval toward drugs. Children know that the adults in their school and community expect them to remain drug-free. In an environment of relentless peer pressure, drug testing gives students a definitive reason to say no and provides the armor they may need to justify their decision.
The purpose of drug testing is not to punish students who use drugs, but to help those in trouble by preventing drug use and helping drug-using students become drug-free in a confidential manner. The results of a positive drug test should be used to intervene with not-yet-dependent students and get drug-dependent students into effective treatment. After assessing the extent of the problem, parents and administrators can recommend further prevention activities such as education on the negative effects of drugs, counseling, or if necessary, drug treatment.