Saturday, 5 April 2008

Why School Drug Tests Won't Work / DFA Deceit

Drug testing in schools make sense, doesn't it. We don't want our kids taking drugs so testing will deter them and those who have a drug problem will get caught and given the help they need. Serial offenders will be easily detected and removed from the school to stop their influence on other students.
According to a report from the Australian National Council on Drugs, these are the problems:
1/ Estimated cost is between $100 million and $1 billion.
2/ There is no evidence that it actually works. The only independent research so far was a limited US study that concluded that schools with drug testing programs show very little difference in drug usage compared to nearby schools.
3/ Drug testing is not an exact science and it will always give a certain percentage of false positive readings. For a school that heavily demonises drug use, a false positive result can be devastating to a student and his/her family. Even if cleared, the implication of drug use can be stigmatising and traumatic.
4/ Drug testing at school can encourage dangerous practices to avoid detection. 
Also, school drug testing can create a range of harmful, if unintended, consequences. The most dangerous of these is that students could start to adjust any drug-taking behaviour to avoid detection, such as by using different drugs that have shorter detection periods, bingeing on drugs on Friday night to have the system cleared by Monday and any possible test, or consuming more alcohol as it is not tested. Creating a system that will inevitably lead to some students focusing on learning how to avoid detection rather than making responsible decisions is not a step forward.
-Gino Vumbaca. Executive director of the Australian National Council on Drugs.
5/ Putting the onus on teachers to catch students using drugs is not fair for both students and teachers. Teachers are not qualified to detect, catch or counsel student drug users ... they are employed to teach. Most teachers already go far beyond their official duties and have enough to focus on with their actual work. Playing drug cop and dealing with such matters is a profession on it's own and needs to be dealt with by appropriately qualified people.
The need to implement such schemes as school drug testing cannot be based on emotions or personal opinions. Like most issues regarding drugs, there needs to be research and evidence based policies to avoid the drug hysteria whipped up by the government and the MSM. We have learnt nothing if we continue to just blindly push policing and harsher penalties as the answer to illicit drug use. Drug use and abuse are complex matters and raw emotion or misguided personal opinions should not influence a school's decision.  Until we have done the proper research and have real evidence, school drug testing cannot be implemented without risk of causing more damage than the problem itself.
Importing a school-based, drug-testing policy that is not backed up by any evidence that it works, and may even be harmful, defies common sense.
-Gino Vumbaca. Executive director of the Australian National Council on Drugs.
DFA Tries To Deceive Us Again 
Drug Free Australia (DFA) is continuing to trick Australians using the term "Harm Prevention" which sounds very similar to "Harm Minimisation". The problem is that they are vastly different strategies. "Harm Prevention" is basically zero tolerance whilst "Harm Minimisation" is Australia's official drug treatment which the Howard government was desperately trying to change. 
Harm Minimisation has had great success worldwide and encourages a humane approach to dealing with drug addiction. Harm Minimisation is based on research whilst trying to minimise danger to addicts. Programs like needle exchanges to minimise HIVAIDS and substitution treatment using methadone are some of the successful strategies that have helped millions of addicts worldwide. Harm Minimisation is the standard approach by most western countries.
Harm Prevention is a recent term which basically is a rebadged Zero Tolerance policy. Sweden's Harm Prevention strategy has been suggested as a possible model for Australia by ex prime minister, John Howard. It was heavily endorsed by Christopher Pyne, Bronwyn Bishop, Brian Watters(INCB), Piers Ackerman as well as most of the religious right. Since then, Sweden have been called to explain human rights abuses concerning their Harm Prevention policy and have received heavy criticism from experts worldwide. Sweden has shown no real change to overall levels of drug use but has an ever increasing death toll from HIVAIDS and overdoes.
Drug Free Australia (DFA) are best known as the American styled anti-drug organisation that uses religion and ultra conservative views to produce highly biased and misleading information to back Howard's zero tolerance stance. They are heavily funded by the government and have much influence on government programs. They are headed up by TV Evangelist and faith healer, Pastor Margaret Court and the board includes a variety of zany religious right conservatives. 

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