Drug testing for high school athletes? What is this?
The Juneau School Board has unanimously approved a mandatory drug testing program for all their high school athletes that began last Monday, on October 19th. Considering all the illegal drug use that is so prevalent among students in all of our Alaska High Schools, maybe that is a program that should be instituted at every high school in the state.
It is widely recognized that illegal drug use among students all across Alaska is widespread and ruining the lives of our young people. Talk, off the record, to any law enforcement person, school administrator or teacher and it is soon obvious that illegal drug use among our high school students is out of control. It is a problem that few adults including both parents and especially teachers want to face. And the use of illegal drugs is not just a serious problem with our high school students but in many areas our middle school students are beginning the long and devastating road to being hooked on drugs.
Many hold that, at least, random drug testing of all high school students is the only way our student drug problem can have any chance of being curbed. However, the punishment for illegal drug use would no doubt require some sort of suspension from attending school, but that would be extremely counter-productive and would drive drug users from an education.
The Juneau School Board may be on to something by approving drug testing at least for high school athletes. Under the new policy students would be tested for alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, nicotine, opiates, oxycodone, methamphetamine and steroids.
Intervention methods include: First, an informal contact between a concerned school or staff member or coach and parents or guardians. In the second, a school administrator may refer the student to a drug or alcohol counselor or school nurse, and disciplinary measures could be taken.
Fifteen percent of athletes from each school’s individual sports program will be tested each week. Two programs will be used: Mandatory random drug testing and voluntary drug testing. Students who choose voluntary testing will be chosen in the same random manner as those in the mandatory program.
Student athletes who test positive for drug use will be suspended for the remainder of the current season for any sport they are participating in, but can appeal the suspension. They will not be penalized academically for a positive result and their drug testing results will not be reported to law enforcement.
Harmful illegal drug use among our Alaskan young people appears to be out of control but just maybe this new drug testing program now underway in Juneau is a program headed in the right direction. Time will tell.
Think About It! JCD 10-21-09