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Drug Testing In Schools: Debate Paper - With A Free Essay Review



Did you know that 1.8 million youths aged twelve and older are current users of cocaine? This statistic is a shocking number because cocaine is a very hazardous drug that easily has a chance of killing a child below the age of eighteen. And chances are those children are more likely to become dependent on that drug and have a dim future because of that. The formal definition of drug testing is any test administered to detect the presence of drugs, especially from a blood or urine sample and especially for illegal substances. Testing children for illegal drugs in school is an important question to consider, and ultimately one best left for parents, teachers, and school administrators. There is no right or wrong answer, and no “one size fits all” solution. A well-known Supreme Court trial was held against a teenager that resisted from taking a random drug test. In a landmark ruling, the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Vernonia School District v. Acton that schools could randomly test student athletes for drug use, after a student, James Acton, was banned from trialing for his school football team without consenting to a test. This trial was consisted of the Vernonia School District which is in Vernonia, Oregon against James Acton in 1995 and the Vernonia School District in the end won it.

There are many methods of testing a person for drugs but the most common methods for schools are urine, saliva, and hair sampling. Urine testing is usually the least expensive ($7-$50) and the most convenient because it can be done at home and is the results are shown in a period of week. The saliva method a bit more expensive than the urine sampling ($15-$75) and is one of the easier methods of detecting drug use but does require a laboratory to process the results. As of today, the hair sampling approach is one of the most expensive ways to test for drug use ($100-$150). This particular method has the ability to detect drug use over a longer period of time and can even tell when a person began using drugs and ended. Schools have adapted to random drug testing on their students they believe that these random tests will serve as a deterrent, and give students a reason to not get into peer pressure and inhale these toxins. Secondly, adolescents who have started to take drugs have opportunities to intervene and seek treatments with professionals to remove this awful addiction.

Drug testing in schools has resulted in powerful, accurate, and positive outcomes in attempting to reduce the amount of young drug users in school. A recently published news cast by the News of the World showed that out of the sampled parents and children, 82% of parents and 66% of children support. Also, out of the 1,000 parents surveyed, 96% of them would want to know if their child had experienced any kind of drugs, so the public perception is that there is a need for action. The purpose of drug testing students is not so much to catch offenders but to prevent them for doing it in the first place. Surely, there will be justice taken but it is displaying the serious consequences against the offenders. There is a clear and present problem with drug use among teenagers in many countries. Current measures to tackle drugs at the source (i.e. by imprisoning dealers and breaking the supply chain) are not succeeding. It is especially important to protect teenagers, at an impressionable age and at the time when their attitude to education greatly affects their entire lives. Some sacrifice of human rights is necessary to tackle the drug problem. Drug testing is a very simple mechanism for examining the human body because there are multiple options of detecting it by supplying urine, hair, or simply a breath. These little samples detect many common drugs like methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroin. Also, if you know that you are not breaking the law by taking drugs, then there is no need to fear and that mostly deals with the population of the school! There are multiple ways for a youth to experience drugs but peer pressure is the admissible fashion. Discouraging drug adoption amongst athletes, model students, etc. sends a powerful message to the entire student body. Schools throughout the United States have thrived into teaching about the negative effects of using drugs like drug education but little of these schools have been successful. Although young people have the information on drugs, they continue to ruin their health. Lastly, drug testing in schools sends clear messages that drugs are wrong and harmful and everybody is equal. Children have to realize that taking drugs is never OK and that they will not get away with it. Using this system is unjust nor prejudiced because it doesn’t allow for such an approach to target a specific category out of a student body.

Drug testing has many positive reactions on sending a powerful message and reducing the percentage of youth drug users but there are many negative effects to this mechanism. The main ideas of how abrogating drug testing in schools is the invasion of privacy, money, and teenagers finding ways to beat the system. Most justice systems hold to the notion of innocence until proven guilty. To enforce random drug testing (thereby invading the privacy of students about whom there is no suspicion of drug use) is to view them as guilty until proven innocent. Nothing justifies the sacrifice of human rights for innocent people. Also, many people believe that innocent students have something to fear – again, the violation of privacy and loss of dignity caused by a drug test. A specific drug test that represents that issue is sampling a person’s urine. Teenagers, especially drug-taking teenagers, are attracted by rebellion and the chance of beating the system. Tactics including uniting as a whole against the school administrators increases the peer pressure as they unite. A well-known stereotype is said that most drug users are not intelligent. But when it comes to dealing with drugs, they’ll conduct their research to locate drugs that are more difficult to test or using masking agents, therefore not being caught for breaking the law. Masking agents are reagents used in chemical analysis which reacts with chemical species to “hide” or prevent detection of a banned substance or illegal drug. Lastly, testing randomly can be a waste of money because you are testing people who are clearly innocent thus wasting your time, their time, and a quality amount of money. Also, not every test is going to be completely accurate and may result in serious flaws. Depending on the way of testing, these tools can range over $50 for one person. The cost of testing is likely to exceed most schools' entire expenditure on drug education, prevention or counseling. One U.S. school district, the cost of detecting only 11 students who tested positive amounted to $35,000.

I strongly believe that drug testing in schools should be enforced simply because it has proven to be an effective mechanism for detecting drugs. The way most schools in the United States have shown to be mostly ineffective and the current measures of tackling this drug issue by finding the root of the supply chain isn’t succeeding either. The primary purpose of drug testing is not to punish students who use drugs but to prevent drug abuse and to help students already using become drug-free. I understand it interferes with one’s privacy but it is not too invasive. We have to realize that safety and health are much more important than privacy. Also, I strongly agree with the expensive cost to buy these resources but I think the benefits outweigh the costs due to the fact that these tests act as deterrents and lead to a drug-free school environment and thus a healthier and better society, they are clearly worth the costs. The future benefits need to be taken into account too. Given that random tests have the deterrent effect, they prevent the development of serious addictions (such as when people move on from marijuana to heroin). An interesting statistic shows how easily drugs are distributed throughout a student body; specifically in a certain grade. As of 2010, about 30% of 10th-graders used marijuana in the past year. More than two-thirds of 10th graders said they could easily gain access to that drug. Lastly, enforcing the random drug testing system into public schools across the United States sends the right message about drugs. Using drugs, especially at a young age, extremely harms your health and is completely wrong. Children have to realize that it is never OK to do drugs and that they will never get away with it.

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ESSAY REVIEW

I think if you are writing this for a debate, then you need to focus on producing the kind of direct, to-the-point language appropriate to persuasive speech. You open, for instance, with a question, but it's not a real question. It's intended to communicate a fact about cocaine use, and not to make the reader wonder about her or his knowledge on the subject. That’s an indirect way of communicating a fact, and because it is indirect, it is less effective than it might otherwise be. So just say, “1.8 million” - well, no, say "One million, eight hundred thousand young people use cocaine." That sounds bigger, and it might relieve you of the burden of telling people what to feel about the number (it's shocking!), which you should generally try to avoid doing. Nobody likes to be manipulated, except when they don't know they are being manipulated. So just say:

"One million, eight hundred thousand young people use cocaine, and cocaine kills children, or makes them sick, or turns them into junkies, or drug dealers, or criminals, or prostitutes, or generally screws up their lives." Those statements may be crude, but they are more specific than claims about drug use being hazardous or effecting a dim future.

However you decide to revise your first couple of sentences, you cannot just move on without further ado to a definition of drug testing. You need a transition in order to create a connection in the mind of your reader between what you have just said about the horrifying impact of cocaine use and what you intend to discuss in your essay. You are writing an essay supporting drug testing, so your opening might look like this:

"One million, eight hundred thousand young people use cocaine, and cocaine kills children, or makes them sick, or turns them into junkies, or drug dealers … or generally screws up their lives. These facts are unacceptable in a civilized society and that is why I support drug testing in schools."

Note that those two sentences now belong together. The first is the reason for the existence of the second.

You can then talk about a definition of drug testing if you must, but you only must do that if the concept is arcane or if the definition itself is relevant to the argument you want to make. Neither is true in this case, so you can probably just get away with assuming that everyone knows what drug testing is; after all, everyone does in fact know what drug testing is.

Your second paragraph is also full of information that is interesting but not useful in terms of persuading your reader of the importance of drug testing. So if that is what you want to do, if you want to compel your reader to agree with your argument about drug testing, then obviously you should focus on writing a compelling argument. Why bore me or distract me with information about the costs of various types of testing, when you could be telling me about issues that might actually impact how I think about the advisability of drug testing. Perhaps you would object that you are raising an relevant issue here. That would be a good objection but for the fact that you don't actually make cost an issue at this point in your essay.

The way to make cost an issue is to acknowledge that opponents might be worried about cost, and then explain why they shouldn't be:

"Some opponents are worried about cost. I understand this concern. [Insert here your bit about the cost of testing]. [Insert here an argument about why the cost is worth bearing]."

This kind of argument, where you acknowledge what your opponent might be worried about, is very effective at undermining objections to your argument, and so it strengthens your argument. Normally it is not the first thing one does in making an argument, however, so I would suggest postponing it until after you have made a strong positive case for drug testing. Note also that the second half of the second paragraph deals with a separate topic ("Schools have adapted etc.") and so can be dealt with separately. Two topics in one paragraph is one topic too many.

So you can probably tell what I'm about to say about the next paragraph, the one that begins with a statement about the great drug-testing outcomes and goes on to talk about everything drug-related under the sun. From an organizational point of view, that paragraph is a bit of a trainwreck, but this is more or less true for the essay as a whole. For every paragraph, decide what single topic you want to talk about, then talk about that. E.g., one paragraph about the popularity of drug testing; one paragraph about the failure of alternative solutions; one paragraph about the efficacy of drug testing; one paragraph about the cost; and perhaps one paragraph on the issue of the (privacy) rights of the student.

That sounds very prescriptive, but of course you are free to decide yourself what constitutes a single topic. It would be possible to deal with the issue of rights, for instance, and the question of popularity as part of the same topic: "Some think it's a breach of rights, but most people are behind it, and the Supreme Court has determined that..." The main point is that you should focus on creating discrete units of argument, and make sure it is clear in each case just what the argument is: i.e., don't just present information, but make an argumentative claim on the basis of that information, a claim that preferably supports your overarching argument about the need for testing.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: cvraider24
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