Random drug testing in schools does not reduce students’ substance use, a national survey of high school students concludes. The study found students who attend schools where they feel treated with respect are less likely to start smoking cigarettes or marijuana.
Students who attend schools where they feel respected, who have already started smoking, escalate their smoking at a slower rate than their peers at schools with less positive atmospheres, the study also found.
Neither random drug testing nor a positive school climate was associated with a reduction in alcohol use, according to researcher Dan Romer, PhD, Director of the Adolescent Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He and lead author Dr. Sharon Sznitman, currently at the School of Public Health at Haifa University in Israel, spoke about the findings at the recent American Sociological Association annual meeting.
The researchers interviewed 361 high school students twice, one year apart. They asked them about their use of cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana. If they had not started using these substances at the beginning of the year, the researchers asked whether they had started to do so a year later. If they already had started using any of these substances, the students were asked whether they increased their use.
Students were asked whether their school had a random drug testing program and what the social climate was in their school. “We measured this by whether students think the rules in their school are fairly administered, whether they feel they have a say in how the rules are developed and if they feel they are treated with respect,” Romer said.
Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education