Mandatory Drug Tests – For Kids?

by Diane Dimond on February 11, 2013

Can Underage Drinking and Drugging Be Stopped?


There’s a community wide conversation going on in Kansas City, Missouri that should also be taking place around the country. It has to do with high school kid’s use of drugs and alcohol. The discussion revolves around the question: How can adults adequately convince a teen-ager that drinking too soon or using narcotics can, literally, cost them their lives? 

At Rockhurst High School in Kansas City the Jesuit leadership has answered that question with, “You can’t.” You can’t fully convince or trust teens not to drink or experiment with drugs. So, later this year at the all-male Rockhurst High they will begin to randomly drug test the student body by taking 60 hairs from the head of each teen. This will be repeated every 90 days. One of the Rockhurst faculty members, someone with a background in barbering, will collect the sample hairs and send them out for testing. Lab techs will look for traces of marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs as well as alcohol consumption.

Hairs Trap Secrets of Drugs and Alcohol Abuse

Human hairs are sort of like tree rings, storing the residue from drugs and booze in the shaft of each strand. As the hair grows out the pattern remains on the hair shaft and lab techs can detect not only what substances a person has used, but how much of it and approximately when it was ingested. The longer the hair the more information they can glean. 

As shocking as it sounds – making it mandatory for a minor to give up part of themselves for scrutiny even though they may have done nothing wrong – this plan is not illegal because Rockhurst is a private school. When parents decide to enroll their sons at Rockhurst they agree to abide by the six page drug and alcohol policy of the 100 year old Catholic school. 

Public schools could never get away with plucking student’s head hairs and sending them out to labs for random testing because that would be classified as an “unreasonable search and seizure” under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

Rockhurst High Requires 60 Hairs Per Student

Even the local ACLU legal director in Missouri can’t come up with a challenge to the Rockhurst plan although Doug Bonney did tell the Kansas City Star he thought the idea was, “A colossal waste of money.” By the way, the cost of each $50 test will be borne by fees collected from parents for student activities. 

Gee, I remember when student fees went to pay for things like sock hops and field trips. 

As you can imagine there has been both applause and jeers for this get-tough drug testing idea. On local Missouri web sites reporting the story reader comments offered a wide range of opinions.  

Someone calling themselves Frank Frankly wrote: “It’s a private school, they can do what they want. If you don’t want your child to be subjected to it then put them in public school.”  

Mike Jensen agreed. “It’s not about infringement because there is a choice involved. The school is trying to ensure that its students receive a quality education and stay clean.”   

Britney Spears Allegedly Shaved to Avoid Drug Test

But an e-mailer with the handle Dagmstr sees something more ominous afoot. “They start with the schools then what’s the next step? Adults – maybe through the DMV (or) the social security program or Obamacare?”   

And, reader Metamax warned about the future threat to Rockhurst students who break the rules. “The parents had better give this a second thought as this “can” come back and bite their kids later for college and jobs. False positives can be a one way ticket to the court system and charges. Government abuse of rights starts just like this.” 

I bothered to read the whole six page policy and it is not about calling in the cops or making a negative permanent record for the substance using student. The school says information gathered under the program will stay within and never be disseminated to colleges or potential employers. 

Rockhurst High’s Goal: A Healthy Lifestyle

Rockhurst’s plan is a three strikes policy and positive test results are followed by a quiet confrontation between guidance counselor, parents and the offending teen. No disciplinary action is taken immediately but the student must follow the school psychologist’s rehab recommendations. Only after the third strike will a student be dismissed permanently. 

You know, when I first heard about this idea of randomly taking hairs from school kids for drug testing I was aghast. I thought about my own daughter and what I would have done if her Catholic school had suddenly demanded access to her bodily samples. Back then I surely would have balked. I might have re-actively yanked her out of the school. 

But now I realize if we really want to make sure our kids get the best education and the greatest leg up in this competitive life why wouldn’t we want to keep them on the healthiest path possible? Isn’t it better to learn about a problem early on rather than after it has been left to fester into a life-long millstone? 

Raising Healthy Kids Together

Some will say this type of program diverts an important parental responsibility and hands it over to schools. I don’t agree. I think it includes schools into today’s very complicated business of raising good and healthy kids who will, hopefully, never be on the wrong side of the law. 

At the very least it has sparked a much needed conversation that I hope spreads to every household with children – beginning tonight around the dinner table.    



{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 10:19 am

Linked In Friend marc schacher writes:

“Its an interesting question. The privacy issue concerns me. Once it happens…even if its a false positive…we all now how it works…everyone knows. Would we not be better served by encouraging parents to take it upon themselves to have it done?”


billy bob February 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Why not have EVERYONE in the school submit to the test. That means the educators, administrators, secretaries, the janitors. It’ll soon stop. And if there were a test for pederasty, watch ’em scramble.


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Facebook Friend Jeannette Albarran writes:

“I think it’s something that MUST go hand in hand with parental responsibility. It starts at home.”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Facebook Friend Lorrie Sardinia writes IN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION – WOULD HAIR TESTING OF YOUR CHILD BE OKAY WITH YOU? (See below for more reaction to the question)

” I would allow it.”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Facebook Friend Anton Lavelle writes:

“Great! Cheers to that story.”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Facebook Friend Susan Alloggio writes:

“I would agree to that. And would agree to birth control shots when they get their shots as well. Teen pregnancy is NOT as cool as they make it out to be on TV.”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Facebook Friend Linda Taylor writes:



Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:13 pm

FAcebook Friend Amy Crohn Santagata writes:

” Hmmm. Hair, easy. But what if they move on to other types of tests like blood or urine? I’d have to say no. If the school has suspicions, they should contact the parents or the police if dealing is involved. JMHO”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Facebook Friend Mike Drexler writes:

“I think if you want to subject children to this sort of testing than all teachers, administrators, the school board and even the custodians at the school should be subjected to the same testing. And the penalty for any adult should be immediate dismissal or resignation. What’s good for the gosling should be good for the goose and the gander.”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Facebook Friend Bill Voinovich writes:

If you don’t have reasonable cause, then you ain’t gettin’ NOTHIN……
let the school SUE ME if they don’t like it…..”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Twitter Pal LaurieSpezzano writes;

“@DiDimond No way. If they believe my kid’s on drugs they should inform me of the reason. Schools not qualified to diagnose or prescribe.”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Twitter pal AleneDJWi writes:

“@DiDimond I think I would have to let them drug test, I wouldn’t have years ago but times have changed.Sad.”

“@DiDimond I’d also be in favor of implanting a micro chip @ birth, we do it to our animals, aren’t our children just as important.”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Twitter pal MaggioMatt writes:

” Public schools need to stick to teaching – and avoid parenting, passing out contraceptives, etc. @DiDimond”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Twitter pal aimeeb262 writes:

” @DiDimond nope, huge invasion of privacy. If the school is worried about drugs perhaps they should look into the legal ones. #adderall”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Twitter Pal JillAMackie writes:

” @DiDimond No, wouldn’t agree to that – boundary crossing in my view.”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Twitter Pal ksdstny writes:

” @DiDimond NO…#familybusiness”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Twitter Pal NikiT67 writes:

” @DiDimond possibly,IF, I was consulted first.”


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Twitter Pal harro1972 writes:

” @DiDimond If your doing nothing wrong, then why would you be bothered about privacy?”


ADRIAN MCMANUS February 11, 2013 at 5:00 pm

I think it should be done, for the times have changed for the worse now a days. Only problem is… parents might be druggies too!! I think if the child is under 18 it should be done. How would one help a child if the parents are a mess to begin with?


Diane Dimond February 11, 2013 at 5:33 pm

DD Website Reader Marie Riggins writes:

“Go ahead and CUT!!!”


Honnie Queen February 12, 2013 at 2:35 am

I don’t know, sounds like a good idea but maybe not.
What are your thoughts on Christopher Droiner?


Diane Dimond February 12, 2013 at 2:15 pm

You mean Christopher Dorner – the rouge LAPD cop who is the subject of that massive California manhunt? I think he was probably never mentally stable enough to be a police officer – and because he’s already shot five people (killing three) I will be dollars to donuts this ends with him having committed suicide. As I write this the manhunt is entering its second week. Dorner may already be dead somewhere on that snowy mountain where he was last thought to be hiding. ~ DD


Smillie February 12, 2013 at 1:12 pm

If they don’t like it go to public school. I think the Catholics have it right. Discipline, Personal appearance,(uniforms,Hair,etc) I think we have a waiting list for non Catholics here in our Catholic schools. The Michelle Gal who took over Washington DC schools proved that they just didn’t want to hear the truth.


Diane Dimond February 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm

DD Web Site Reader Pat Roy writes:

“I would agree to let them do it. I think that is a very good idea if my child is doing drugs I would want to know it so I can get them help and off of them. I think there would be a lot less fights and bullying if that was the case. Just saying.”


Diane Dimond February 14, 2013 at 11:23 am

Twitter Pal GoreGaila writes:

“@DiDimond we are putting my daughter in private school next year! I’m all for it!!! My child has nothing to hide!”


Diane Dimond February 19, 2013 at 5:09 pm

DD Web Site Reader Terrence A. Baum writes:

“Ms. Dimond,
As the President of Rockhurst High School, I was delighted by your column on 02/15/13 in which you present a balanced view of what we are attempting with our new Drug/Alcohol policy. Much of the criticism we have received has been from those who have not bothered to read the policy in full. We have overwhelming support of the parents of our current students, and the kids themselves are coming to the realization that this initiative will only make our school a stronger institution.
God bless,
Terrence A. Baum, SJ


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Huffington Post Reader Judi Hink Richardson writes:

“i am all for it! in private schools there is often a moral code
of conduct that each student must live up to or be
suspended/expelled. the “hair” test for drugs would be a fair
way to prove clean as you go through your high school
experience. you know when you enrolled you made this moral
agreement so you stick to it!!!”


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Huffington Post Reader themightyabealrd writes:

“An intelligent approach to this issue would NOT make the error of implying that alcohol is not a drug. The phrase ‘drugs and alcohol’ is a redundancy, because alcohol IS a drug-the most popular one in our nation.
How will young people ever learn about substance abuse if the information they receive is inaccurate and untrue?”


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Huffington Post Reader skeach101 writes:

Recent examination of the War on Drugs effect on education in America.”


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Huffington Post Reader Anthony Papa

“The Drug Policy Alliance supports reality-based drug education that treats young people with respect and acknowledges that some level of teen drug use is an inevitable, if not optimal, reality. We are also working to end invasive drug testing and punitive responses to student drug use that rob young people of educational and enrichment opportunities.


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Huffington Post Reader Parade Keegan writes:

< <"But now I realize if we really want to make sure our kids get the best education and the greatest leg up in this competitive life why wouldn't we want to keep them on the healthiest path possible?" >>

The first step to getting your child a quality education is getting them out of private schools which don’t require their teachers to be state accredited or trained as teachers.


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Huffington Post Reader Monte Mcmillian writes:

“This is the problem with education in America. We seem more concerned about treating kids as potential criminals at every turn then actually giving them critical thinking skills. School’s have already become overbearing in recent years and overreact to everything students do.”


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Huffington Post Reader boobulargroove writes:

” it is the parent’s responsibility to keep their children away from drugs. When the government keeps taking away more parental responsibility our society becomes weaker.”


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Huffington Post Reader SoCalifTeacher writes:

“Sadly parents using drugs aren’t real good about keeping drugs away from their own children. Had a mother once tell my student, “just because I huff doesn’t mean you can”. Older siblings also provide drugs. Most kids don’t think that pot is illegal or that it is against the law to drink, they just aren’t old enough to buy alcohol.”


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Huffington Post Reader pinkjuniece513 writes:

“Random drugs searches, ah I can still remember when my high school did it all the time. The school had police canine dogs sniff our backpacks in the classroom while all the students wait in the hall.”


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Huffington Post Reader JBS writes:

“It would make more sense to mandate random drug testing for all elected officials.”


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Huffington Post Reader nypoet22 writes:

“it’s one thing if there’s a legitimate reason to suspect, but across the board mandatory testing is just a scheme to extract more profit.”


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Huffington Post Reader MNKlien212 writes:

“How about sobriety tests for Congress? Three times a day. They can’t enter the chamber if they have been drinking.”


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Huffington Post Reader TooGuud writes:

“First of all its a private school. Overzealous Freedom Defenders please have a seat.

All parents who wouldn’t mind if their kid turned into a weed head or alcoholic please raise your hand……

Random parent: “No I dont want my boy to become an addict. But there’s nothing wrong with experimenting ya know.”
Other parent: “Its ok as long as I know they’re doin it or in my house with supervision.”

Agreed, but sometimes those same experimenters turn into lifelong addicts or disasters, sometimes they even influence other kids into negative behavior. Drugs and alcohol arent illegal just to spoil your fun, it’s for the greater good of society as a whole.

Moderation not intoxication.

Disclaimer: I have participated in narcotics and alcohol lmao but I’m mature enough to recognize and handle the consequences. 15 or 16 year old? Maybe not so much.”


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Huffington Post Reader Guys POV writes:

“If you are a pro-testing parent, why not just drug test your own kid? Why would you want some third party to know (and possibly kick him out of school for it)? I see absolutely no benefit to having a school arbitrarily test students.”


Diane Dimond February 20, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Huffington Post Reader TheTightwireGuy writes:

“A lot of parents are in denial about the drug use of their own children while thinking it is done by “other” kids. Those parents are likely in for a shock when the results of the first round of the tests come back.”


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