Drug testing a tool to keep children safe

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 16, 1999

Keeping students safe. It’s the goal of parents, educators and the community. And now we have another tool in the fight: drug testing.

Two nonpublic schools, Huntington in Ferriday, La., and Cathedral in Natchez, are using drug testing. And although the approaches are different – Huntington will test all of its seventh through 12th grade students and Cathedral will test randomly, only when administrators suspect drug or alcohol use by a student on campus – the goal is the same.

And we think it’s an effective tool to use.

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While no one likes to think about students using drugs, it’s a reality. And if we, as adults, parents and the community, are going to preach zero tolerance of illegal drug and alcohol abuse, then we need to be prepared to enforce that stand. If that requires drug testing to uncover the abuse, then that’s what we need to do.

Students who attend these schools do so by choice – they and their parents are choosing to enroll at these nonpublic schools and in doing so they agree to abide by the rules of those schools.

It’s important to note here that none of the tests conducted so far have come back positive, administrators say.

But chances are a test will come back positive one day.

And when it does, we encourage administrators and parents to stand strong and take action – whether that’s enrolling the student in a treatment and counseling program or expelling him or her from school.

Ultimately, the goal isn’t punishment … it’s about keeping our children healthy and safe, about giving them all the opportunities and the tools they need to grow, learn and excel.

And, even though it’s a difficult decision and an unpleasant issue, drug and alcohol abuse among teenagers is a reality that won’t go away if we keep ignoring it.