ニュージャージー州バスキングリッジにあるRidge High のカウンセラーによると、昨年学校で問題のある23人をテストしたところ、15人が薬物またはアルコール陽性と判明したという。今年はテストした7人のうち3人が陽性だった。|
Ridge High では、スポーツ・クラブ参加、駐車許可取得に対して無作為検査同意が必要である。週に約7人が選ばれ、尿検査を施行する。停学といった処分ではなく、カウンセリングと2週間の活動停止となる。
郡区の保健局と薬物乱用に対するその地方自治体同盟によってされたほぼ忘れられた2005年の研究を発掘した。地区は家庭平均年収135,00ドルの裕福な地域で85%に両親がいる（全米平均は67%）。Ridge High の10-12学年の半数を調査し違法ではないが乱用を見つけた。スポーツ選手で特に問題なアルコールだった。最近10年の調査でもアルコールは薬物乱用の2-3倍である。
Drawing the Line on Drug Testing
By MICHAEL WINERIP
Published: November 19, 2008
BASKING RIDGE, N.J.
Nancy Wegard for The New York Times
“I don’t want it misunderstood,” said Lynn Evelyn, 52, the mother of three teenage girls. “I’m not in favor of kids using drugs or alcohol.
“My approach is to tell them: ‘I don’t want you to do it. I think it’s absolutely the wrong kind of behavior for adolescents to engage in. But if you do choose at some point to experiment’ ― and my girls are all social ― I talk about how, in our own family, there’s a history of alcohol dependency. They know my older brother died of drug addiction.”
Her oldest daughter is now a college freshman, but last year, when she was a senior, a few times she came home after drinking heavily, the mother said, and they talked. “I made it clear this upset me,” Ms. Evelyn said. “ I didn’t expect this to be a regular thing.”
The mother supports what’s called “suspicion-based testing” ― testing students if they appear to be impaired at school. “Kids shouldn’t go to school drunk or high,” she said. “It’s not just the school’s right to test, it’s the school’s responsibility.”
Indeed, last year officials at Ridge High here tested 23 students suspected of being impaired at school, with 15 testing positive for drugs or alcohol, according to Chad Gillikin, a school counselor. This year, seven have been tested, with three registering positive, he said.
And that is where Ms. Evelyn believes the school’s role stops. “Any more testing is an invasion of privacy,” she said.
This has put her at odds with many school officials in this wealthy suburb, including Mr. Gillikin. He is the co-chairman of a study committee that wants to implement a random drug screening program that would test 15 percent of Ridge High’s students each year to monitor their behavior when they’re not in school.
“Schools we’ve visited that do random drug testing, it’s very impressive,” said Mr. Gillikin. “They say it’s changed the youth culture in their communities.”
Ms. Evelyn countered: “This is a parent’s responsibility, not the school’s. It shows an unwillingness to teach kids the real-life skills they need to resist drug and alcohol abuse. And it doesn’t even get at the bigger problem ― which is alcohol, not drugs.”
Since the Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that schools could randomly test students participating in sports and clubs, 7 percent of the nation’s high schools and middle schools ― 4,200 of an estimated 59,364 ― have implemented random testing, mostly for drugs, according to a 2007 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. New Jersey has taken an aggressive approach, with 27 districts testing for drugs, as well as the state’s high school athletic association.
Starting in 2006, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association began randomly testing high school athletes competing in state tournaments for performance-enhancing drugs. Of the 1,000 student-athletes screened so far, 2 have tested positive ― both for steroids, according to Bob Baly, the association’s assistant director.
The proposed random drug testing plan for Ridge High is similar to ones already in place at the 27 other New Jersey school districts. Any students wanting to play a sport, join a club or get a parking permit ― about 80 percent of Ridge High’s 1,600 kids ― would have to consent to random testing or would not be able to participate.
About seven kids a week would be selected by computer and called to the nurse’s office to urinate in a cup. Students testing positive would not miss school, nor would results appear on their transcripts. They would have to take part in counseling with their parents and miss two weeks from their team or club.
This contrasts with suspicion-based testing now being done at Ridge High, which typically results in a five-day school suspension and may involve calling in the police.
“The random testing isn’t meant to be punitive,” said Mr. Gillikin. “It’s meant to help families work these things out.” He estimates random drug testing would cost no more than $5,000 a year.
His committee has spent two years studying the issue, including making visits to five districts that do testing. The 18 committee members ― virtually all school officials here in Bernards Township ― voted unanimously to recommend random drug testing. Mr. Gillikin acknowledges that during the two years, his group could find no academic research indicating that random testing reduces student drug use. “The evidence we have is anecdotal from other districts that say it works,” he said. “More research does need to be done.”
Indeed, one of the few academic studies, conducted by the University of Michigan at 900 schools in 2003, found no evidence that testing lowered drug abuse. Nor is the medical community particularly supportive. A 2006 survey of physicians found 83 percent opposed drug testing in public schools, and a 2007 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended against testing because, it said, there has been little research on the effectiveness, and such testing can breed “distrust and suspicion” among students, school officials and parents.
In her effort to derail random testing, Ms. Evelyn has unearthed an all-but-forgotten 2005 study done here by the township’s Board of Health and its Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse.
That study described this community as prosperous ($135,000 median family income) and full of two-parent households (85 percent compared with a national average of 67 percent). Its children get so much support at home and school and feel so good about themselves, the report’s author noted, that “statistically there isn’t much room for improvement.”
That study surveyed about half of 10th and 12th graders at Ridge High and did identify a substance abuse problem, although it was not illegal drugs. It was alcohol, which, the report said, was particularly a problem among athletes. “Programs targeting this group may be worthwhile,” the report said.
The report’s author, Dr. Kirk Harlow, a professor at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Tex., was asked in a phone interview why he hadn’t focused on drug use. “It just wasn’t as prevalent there, it’s not as big an issue,” he said. “I’ve been working in the public health field 30 years, and alcohol remains our No. 1 substance abuse problem.”
Indeed, the district’s own surveys of Ridge High students over the last decade have found the rate of alcohol abuse to be two to three times the rate of drug abuse.
Asked about this, Mr. Gillikin said that in response to the 2005 report, the district had helped create a coaches’ manual on alcohol and drug use that is intended to teach student-athletes healthy decision-making.
As to why his committee isn’t pushing for random alcohol testing, Mr. Gillikin said that districts the members visited advised them to go slow, perfect the random drug testing system first and then maybe take on alcohol.
Ms. Evelyn’s middle daughter, Hannah, 17, a junior at Ridge High, suspects there is another reason the committee has demurred when it comes to alcohol. “There’d be an uprising,” she said. “Most kids drink on the weekend ― they’d definitely be more against it if they went after alcohol.”
The school board is expected to vote on the matter in mid-December.
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