Students reiterate opposition to random drug testing in schools
The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) today reiterated its position against the proposal to implement random drug testing in schools, saying that arguments against they made against the measure in 2002 still apply today.
NUSP national president Alvin Peters said that the recent announcement of implementing drug testing in schools is merely a knee-jerk and shortsighted reaction by the government to the Alabang boys scandal. "The measure is punitive, arbitrary and discriminatory and essentially illustrates the lack of any comprehensive plan to go after the real culprits in the drug problem: the drug dealers and corrupt government officials who turn a blind eye to drug dealers' activities," Peters said.
Peters cited provisions in the existing Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which his group opposed in 2002 when the said Act was recently signed into law.
Article III section 35 of the new law obliges students in secondary and college levels to undergo drug testing upon recommendation of a faculty or school authority; while section 42 empowers the same school officials in apprehending students suspected of using illegal drugs.
"Drug testing in schools is open to abuse and discriminate against delinquents, emotionally-troubled children, fraternity members, activists, gangsters and other students the school may want to get rid of," said Peters.
NUSP questions effectiveness of drug testing in schools
Peters also questioned the effectiveness of drug testing to curb drug use among the youth saying that the United States which started conducting drug tests in schools in 1998 had no conclusive evidence to show that the measure was successful in discouraging drug abuse.
A study published by the Journal of School Health in the US in 2002 revealed that drug use in schools which conducted drug tests is the same with schools that did not implement the program. The US National Institute of Health funded research was done by researchers of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.
Peters said the government would only waste precious taxpayers' money by implementing a program whose scientific validity is being questioned in other countries.
"Already scarce funds for education must be used wisely to buy basic school needs like textbooks, classrooms and facilities and not for an expensive and ineffective drug testing program," Peters said.
Peters said that drug testing in schools can be abused by corrupt bureaucrats looking to signing juicy contracts with private laboratories and companies.
The student leader instead urged education officials to focus their time and energy on instituting a program that will include drug education in the curriculum of schools.
The NUSP said the government should trust educators and their students to be able to deter drug use and identify drug users even without the drug test.
The NUSP clarified that students are very eager to join the battle against illegal drug trade and use in the country since it also victimizes their fellow youth "but they are rejecting the regulatory measures proposed by the government which seek to punish the victims instead of running after drug pushers outside the school and preventing drug use in the first place."