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Middle school students approve of drug testing

(ran PAS edition)

Some Florida legislators raised concerns this session that a plan to require random drug testing for certain delinquent children might violate the children's civil liberties.

They approved a watered-down version of the plan, which is awaiting Gov. Lawton Chiles' signature.

Not everyone believes the idea is a bad one, though.

Most children questioned about the issue at Pine View Middle School last week said they consider random drug testing a good solution to the drug problem.

"Too many kids are getting coke and other drugs," said Katelynne Schweitzer, 12. "It can really hurt you. I think drug testing is a good idea."

Others said they felt drug testing may be too severe for certain offenses but did not object to the idea overall.

Getting children off drugs may help reduce the number of young people who get into trouble, they said.

"If a kid is out late and steals a car, it might be because they're high," said Brett Griffiths, 12. "If that's why they're out committing crimes, you'd be able to find that out."

Students also said drug testing would be a way to get treatment to children who may need it.

"If they get tested, then they can get help," said Jessica Meads, 13.

As originally proposed, the bill required drug testing for children who had admitted to all types of infractions _ including violations of the county curfew ordinance and a law prohibiting smoking on school campuses.

Now the measure includes only young people who have gone before a judge and been sentenced to community control, a form of probation.

The bill also no longer requires that drug tests be taken. It simply encourages juvenile justice workers to ask judges to approve random testing, something they do now.

State Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who sponsored the bill at the urging of a Pasco Middle School counselor, said he plans to pursue tougher legislation on juvenile drug testing next year.

Some of his biggest supporters may be young people.

"If the kids are getting in trouble with drugs, the parents need to know," said Sara Hanson, 13. "I think this is a really good idea."

Students at Pine View Middle School were asked:

What do you think about random drug testing for young people who get into trouble with the law?

Students from Pine View Middle School had this to say:

"They should definitely do that. It's stupid for kids to be doing drugs."

- Brandie Debroux, 14

"I don't think it's fair. Kids are too young to be doing hard drugs, but I don't think they should just drug test them all."

- Chris Majowicz, 13

"I think it's good. Why are they breaking the law to begin with?"

- Jennette Villeda, 14

"They should do it because maybe they'll find out why the kids are getting in trouble. Maybe they were high at the time."

- Collyn Williamson, 12

"It really depends on what the crime is. It's good in some cases, but I don't think they should test you for just anything."

- Sarah Scruggs, 13

"It's good because a lot of kids are doing drugs out on the street and bringing it into school."

- Jennifer Huffman, 12

"No, they shouldn't do that because if it's a small crime, that's too strong a punishment. If it's a pretty big crime, then they should be able to."

- Jesse Clark, 13

"If they get tested, then they can get help. I think it's a good idea. Kids are too young to be doing drugs. It'll ruin their lives."

- Jessica Meads, 13