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High school drug testing proven ineffective by new research

Random drug testing and testing for drug use as a prerequisite for participation in sports or other extracurricular activities does not change the rate of use of illegal drugs, rates of smoking, or rates of consuming alcohol illegally in high school students according to new research conducted by Dr. Daniel Romer of the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center in Philadelphia that was published in the Jan. 13, 2014, issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Recording artist Chris Brown appears in Los Angeles court on November 20, 2013, in Los Angeles, California. Brown was ordered to 90 days at an inpatient center, random drug testing, and 24 hours of weekly community service.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Thirty-three percent of the 361 students that Romer interviewed indicated that their school had a drug testing policy but that policy did not make the students any more or less likely to try marijuana, cigarettes, or alcohol.

Students involved in sports and clubs were found to be less likely to use marijuana and other illegal drugs that are commonly tested for in high schools.

Romer notes that 66 percent of high school students try alcohol before they are of legal age. Romer faults sports broadcasting as a source that makes drinking alcohol appealing to young people.

Romer claims that the rates of the use of marijuana and cigarettes were 20 and 15 percent lower in schools where students knew the rules, knew that the rules were enforced equally among all students, and where the relationship between students and teachers was one of mutual respect.

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