Monday, February 05, 2007

Lets Test Enda for Drugs

I posted this over on Irish Election. Along with an email I sent enda.

One of the stories in the papers around this time last year was that cocaine was found in the toilets in Leinster House. Yet as of yet Enda Kenny has not called for the drug testing of all members of the Dail. I have not heard him say that he believes that hethe press there to take pictures of him getting tested for drugs. But of course he will never do that will he, because that is against him and it is not very nice to be treated as a criminal. But some how the students of this country are fair g should have his urine sampled? To stop the peer pressure that goes on in Leinster House. Surely if he wants to lead the debate on this issue he should submit himself to a drugs test and have ame in political football.

This latest proposal from Fine Gael is plain crazy. In an interview with RTE he said it was applied in the US and UK. So lets see if it actually does work. The largest survey to date on the Issue (which I could find in 5 minutes on Google) was taken by the University of Michigan in 2003 that tracked 94,000 students in secondary school. Their conclusion.

Data suggest that drug testing, as practiced in recent years in American secondary schools, does not prevent or inhibit student drug use. The two forms of drug testing that are generally assumed to be most promising for reducing student drug use - random testing applied to all students, and testing of athletes - did not produce encouraging results.

Maybe it is just me but “Does not prevent or inhibit student drug use” seems to suggest that it has failed in the USA. So why would it work in Ireland then?

The obvious answer is that it wouldn’t. Kids have been smoking cigarettes behind the bike shed for years. And been caught for years. But that does not stop them. Teachers know who smokes and who does not and that does not stop kids smoking. Random drug testing works in the Army because people are adults and have something to lose i.e. their jobs also why random breath testing works. Kids on the other hand don’t give a f**k about getting caught. Now Enda insists that this is about stopping peer pressure not catching people. But what does he think is going to happen if a child gets tested positive. That child is probably going to be kicked out of the school. Leading to more disadvantage kids losing out, moving onto harder drugs and causing more of what Fine Gael love best, gang land crime.

But what of the cost of actually administrating this policy (apart from the increased crime rate). In a school in Dublin Ohio. The cost of the program per year in the school was $35,000. Which I would guess is close enough to the salary of a teacher in this country. So basically he is saying that instead of one extra teacher per school, we should have drug testing? Also that school in Dublin Ohio stopped testing as it found it did not work and instead hired a drugs counsellor. (at $32,000 a year). In another report by the same people in Michigan university. They said.

Research has shown that the strongest predictor of student drug use is the student attitudes towards drug use and the perceptions of peer use. To prevent harmful student behaviours such as drug use, school policies that address these key values, attitudes , and perceptions may prove more important in drug prevention than drug testing.

Schools are supposed to be a place where children should feel secure, an environment which encourages learning not an environment that treats them like criminals. If you treat them like that then they will only resent that and become what you treat them as.

Remember this is from the party that complains about the governments lack of coherent planning. Has Enda even read the biggest survey on this question or is he running with it because it sounds good? Why does Enda want to implement a policy that the largest study on it says does not work, that will cause more crime and will divert teaching resources away from schools. I have absolute no idea.

On an obviously separate point under 18 year olds don’t have the right to vote. So here is my challenge to Enda. Medical Testing Ireland sells drug testing kits for 13 euro. I will buy Enda Kenny one, if he is willing to take a Drug test himself in front of the camera’s. Because if it is good enough for the youth or Ireland it should be good enough for our politicians.

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