An article in Saturday's New York Times discusses the pros and cons of drug testing middle school students who want to participate in school clubs or sports.
Florida, Alabama, Missouri, West Virginia, Arkansas, Ohio, New Jersey and Texas have middle schools that conduct drug testing and according to the Times:
Such drug testing at the middle school level is confounding students and stirring objections from parents and proponents of civil liberties.
Proponents --- including drug testing companies -- say the testing serves as a deterrent for middle school students who, for the first time, may be facing decisions about using any number of drugs, including steroids.
Critics claim the tests are unncecessary and are an infringement on students' rights.
Says Dr. Linn Goldberg, head of the Division of Health Promotion and Sports Medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University:
“Drug testing is a multibillion-dollar industry ... They go to these schools and say it’s great. But do the schools actually look at the data? Schools don’t know what to do.”
“There’s little evidence these programs work,” Dr. Goldberg said. “Drug testing has never been shown to have a deterrent effect.”
In 2007, Dr. Goldberg published the results of a study of athletes at five high schools with drug testing and six schools that had deferred implementing a testing policy. He found that athletes from the two groups did not differ in their recent use of drugs or alcohol.
“I think you have to look at the reason for testing,” Dr. Goldberg said. “With Olympic testing, it’s to weed out the people who are cheating. If you’re using drug testing to weed out a problem in kids, you need to get them in therapy. But it doesn’t reduce whether or not kids use drugs.”