Trust, Not Tests, Reduces Drug Use Among Students

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-01_426ae25ef3.jpgDoug Menuez/Thinkstock (PHILADELPHIA) -- Does drug testing in school really discourage youngsters from using illicit substances? Not according to a study from the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center, which says that although one in five U.S. high schools conduct some form of drug testing, the evidence is inconclusive that it’s providing a real deterrent to smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or using marijuana.

Lead study author Daniel Romer explained while the intentions of drug testing may be noble, “based on science, it’s not working.” A better method of getting kids to reject bad habits is by establishing rules that are clear while fostering a positive environment in which both teachers and students show respect for one another.

Romer and his team compared schools offering this kind of atmosphere to those with drug testing and found that students after one year were 20 percent less likely to smoke pot and 15 percent less likely to use tobacco in schools that encouraged trust. However, the rate of underage drinking did not change in either case, leaving Romer to speculate that this behavior is ingrained in the American culture.

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