A school district in Texas is going to begin drug testing its students as early as the seventh grade.
According to ABC 7 Amarillo, the drug testing will begin in August when classes start, and will apply to everyone in school between seventh and 12th grade.
District officials claim that they are getting ahead of the game in order to squash youth drug use before it becomes a problem. “We’ve discussed drug testing policy for about a year now, and the board wants to be proactive,” Bushland Independent School District Superintendent Chris Wigington said. “They want our kids to have a drug-free environment; we want our kids to make great decisions.”
Wigington also stated that he believes the policy will help students think twice before using substances or giving into peer pressure. Students will also be required to pass a drug test before competing in extracurricular activities. “If they’re interested in athletics, if they’re interested in drama, if they’re interested in band—any of the things that we offer extracurricular, it gives them an opportunity to say NO to peer pressure and say, ‘I’m not going to do that because I want to participate,’” said Wigington.
However, rather than expel or suspend students who use drugs, they will simply be banned from participating in activities. The idea isn’t to throw students already engaging in risky behavior out of schools. “These are extracurricular activities; they’re privileges, not rights. We don’t want to hurt a student academically; we don’t want to suspend them from school for testing positive for a drug,” he said.
“Great kids make bad decisions every day, and what we want to do is make sure that our kids have the opportunity to make mistakes but come back and make amends; I guess that’s a way to put that,” he added.
This is a unique approach to trying to limit youth consumption, however it is not a common one. Recent studies show that youth drug use is actually lower in states that legalize cannabis and other studies show that even if teens do consume cannabis, it does not lead to behavior problems.