Remember this about Lewis and Clark High School’s program to test student athletes for drugs: It was suggested by student athletes.
Some seniors on last year’s football team took the idea to their coaches out of concern that drug abuse was hurting the team. The coaches pitched the plan to administrators and administrators sold the Spokane School Board.
Last year, on a voluntary basis, LC football players submitted to a random drug testing program. Next year, all LC teams will participate.
But why just LC? And why just athletes? Why not all schools?
And why not all extracurricular activities, from performing groups to the Science Olympiad teams to student government?
Substance abuse among adolescents isn’t limited to athletes or to one school.
Clearly many teenagers avoid drugs, as a matter of morality, honor or simply good sense. Still, the federal government reported earlier this month that teen use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs is rising.
Many teens who might prefer to resist drugs need an effective refusal tool to counteract peer pressure. Making random drug-testing a condition for participation in school activities that youngsters themselves value would provide one.
“It’s an easy way to say no,” a Lakeside High School sophomore said. Lakeside has a program in which students who agree to periodic drug testing receive discounts for food and recreation.
Not all students are crazy about drug testing, not necessarily because they use drugs. To many, it looks like an accusation, an unfounded suspicion. They take it personally that they are being singled out based not on their conduct, but their age.
In fact, the world beyond high school has its own concerns about substance abuse. Many workplaces test new employees for drug use.
By establishing similar conditions for student activities - in all high schools and all activities - education administrators would avoid saddling any one group of youngsters with suspicion.
At the same time they would empower teens to resist both the temptations of drug use and the intimidation of peer pressure. And, on those occasions when a test was positive, they would have an opportunity to steer certain youngsters toward help.
The Tiger football players who suggested LC’s drug-testing program may well oppose drug use as a matter of principle. But the rationale they offered to their coaches and their peers was the team’s success.
If it deters drug abuse, the motive doesn’t matter.
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Doug Floyd/For the editorial board
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