An overview of random drugs testing in schools: A
survey recently published by the News of the World on Sunday showed
that 82% of parents and 66% of children support school drug testing.
Drug use amongst young people is on the increase, but fortunately so
is the awareness of the whole issue. Despite this, such testing
takes place quite rarely in the UK (mainly in Public / Private
Schools), although it is a more common practice in the USA.
The average starting age for heroin abuse in many towns and cities
in the UK is currently just 15, and a survey of over 20,000 UK
school children showed that 9% of 13 year olds and over a quarter
(27%) of 15 year olds had used an illegal drug at some stage in
their lives. So there is obviously a need for more assertive
intervention at an early age.
Parents face the growing concern that their teenager may already be
taking drugs, or that they are in an environment where they are
exposed to those who will offer them drugs, especially Cannabis /
Marijuana. The frightening reality is that based on the statistics,
this environment may well be their school.
In order to learn more about drug use (and in particular Cannabis /
Marijuana supply and young people), 182 young people who were
Cannabis / Marijuana users aged between 11 and 19 years old were
interviewed for a study published in January 2008 by the Joseph
Rowntree Foundation. The sample included both city dwellers and
young people living in rural villages.
The study discovered that half of the young
people had taken Cannabis / Marijuana into school or college and 43
per cent admitted that they used Cannabis / Marijuana whilst at
school or college. It is clear from the report that the majority of
these young people purchase Cannabis from their friends or relatives
and in turn supply their friends in a new wave of ‘social’ and
‘not-for-profit’ drug taking which is a departure from the typical
dealer-user scenario. One young interviewee told the researchers
that the people who sold her Cannabis / Marijuana included ‘friends
from school’ and shows how combining drug-use with normal social
networking is having the effect of normalising the act of taking
Whilst the institutions we supply school drug
test kits to are benefiting from a reduction in drug use amongst
their students / pupils, not everyone is in favour of random drug
testing in schools.
A recent study by Neil McKeganey, Professor of Drug Misuse Research
at Glasgow University, argues that random drug testing in schools is
perhaps a more complex and controversial issue than one would at
first consider. Questions arise over matters including cost, ethical
issues (such as what would happen in the event that a pupil tested
positive for drugs and what ‘punishment’ or deterrent would be
appropriate), concerns that pupils may switch from easily detectable
drugs to more harmful drugs in order to avoid detection, and the
probability that a trusting relationship between staff and pupil
would be damaged and encourage a culture of concealment.
Furthermore, some may argue that it is possible that enforcing
random drug testing of pupils would conflict with the UN Charter on
the Rights of the Child or the European Charter on Human Rights.
Certainly, accident / incident / suspicion based
testing is treated differently to random testing as you are only
taking action on a case by case basis when there is an apparent need
for further investigation. Combine this with earlier awareness
and prevention strategies and we should be closer to finding a
solution to this growing problem.
Results from an ICM Research poll which appeared in the News of the
World on Sunday demonstrated that 82% of parents and 66% of children
support drug testing in schools and of the 1,000 parents surveyed,
96% said they would want to know if their son or daughter was taking
drugs, so the public perception is that there is a need for action.
So what can be done?
of School Drug Testing:
For Schools / Colleges / Universities, please
information on drug testing and the products and services we
have to offer on our
On-site Urine Drug
Hair Drug Tests
Oral / Saliva Drug
We also offer
drug and alcohol policy development / review consultancy services
drug awareness training.
In the absence of a random drug screening
programme at school or college, anxious parents, guardians or
caregivers who have concerns about teenagers or young people using
drugs are able to conduct a drug test in the privacy of the home.
home drug test kits are used daily by professionals in the
healthcare industry and one test can provide easy to read results in
minutes for a variety of different drugs. This includes the most
common drugs, such as Cannabis / Marijuana, Cocaine, Amphetamines,
Benzodiazepines, Opiates, Methadone and Methamphetamines (including
Drug-Aware Ltd is considered by many to be a UK authority on
drug and alcohol awareness,
information and testing. Visit our
alcohol information page for more information on the signs,
symptoms and effects of the most common drugs or our
drug tests frequently asked questions page to answer your
questions on carrying out testing in the home or to
testing kits online.