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High-Stakes Urine Tests

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In one New Jersey district, what you do (or don't do) over the weekend will have significant consequences come Monday morning—and we're not talking about acing the big algebra test. Administrators at Pequannock Township High School recently approved a new policy to randomly test students for weekend alcohol use. The sensitive tests, which will be used starting next week, can detect drinks consumed up to 80 hours earlier. School officials assert that the specter of testing will encourage students to make better decisions when offered alcohol at weekend parties. But some students beg to differ: "No one's really taking it seriously," says one senior. And civil liberties advocates are concerned that the tests are an invasion of privacy and can produce false positives if students consume Balsamic vinegar or use mouthwash, for example. "Medical care and treatment issues are between parents and children," says Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the New Jersey branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

What's your take—should high schools test their students for alcohol use over the weekend? What kind of limits should exist on school districts' involvement in students' private lives?

3 Comments

I think this is a workable solution to a difficult problem. If students want their private lives to themselves, then they need to stop abusing themselves and everyone around them by abusing alchohol. If they can't stop, then they should consider leaving the public institution and homeschooling or private schooling.

Kim, where's the link between students wanting privacy, and "abusing themselves and everyone around them by abusing alcohol?" This smacks of 'if you have nothing to hide, what are you worried about?' How about handing over the keys to your house so we can rummage around? You've got nothing to hide, right? I didn't think so.

John, public property and private property have different standards. When one's home is a part of the public domain, there is no clear line drawn as to what constitutes "privacy"...hence the discussion. Therefore, as I said before, if an individual needs more privacy, then that individual needs to leave the public domain.

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