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Opinion

Opinion Sniffer dogs in schools Drugs testing is rife in schools, reveals a Druglink parents, policy makers and as adults, our report. Like all such campaigns, they will have a responsibility must be to empower young people short but powerful effect. They stigmatise young to say no if they want to and to prevent those people and install a sense of fear and mistrust, who do use from harm. That is best done in a above all they alienate the most vulnerable. trusting and open environment where those who Evidence shows that ad campaigns and shock need help the most feel they will be listened to tactics can help prevent drug use, but only among and offered help and information. those likely not to use or have problems with Drug problems in schoolchildren are usually drugs anyway. Those who use and are likely to related to family or behaviour problems. If they experience problems are the ones who miss out, go unnoticed this can lead to an escalation – often stigmatised, blamed reason, supporters say, for or encouraged to hide having drug tests and “what is being done to help pupils their problems. Only one sniffer dogs. But if they go who are ‘uncovered’ by the sniffer per cent of pupils are untreated, this can lead to dogs is often less important than believed to have tried greater problems, disease finding them in the first place” cocaine or heroin. Testing and exclusion. And herein therefore seems to be a very blunt instrument to lies the rub, what is being done to help pupils tackle a very complex and for many pupils a very who are ‘uncovered’ by the sniffer dogs is often sensitive issue. less important than finding them in the first Children must be encouraged to talk to place. Following the trauma and the stigma of parents and teachers. Drugs and alcohol is a part this approach, pupils, some of whom may be of all our lives, whether we like it or not. It is how very vulnerable, may have difficulty recovering we deal with it that matters. Sniffer dogs and and dealing with the consequences. But more testing put across a strong message – zero importantly, children will be left in the lurch to tolerance for drugs, which means trouble for prove a point or to be made examples of. Drug those ‘found’ using. Approaching a teacher to services for young people are in short supply and discuss drugs will not be high on the list of any many schools are not experienced in dealing with right-minded pupil in such circumstances. the complex issues vulnerable young people can Statistics show that up to a quarter of pupils have. Indeed many schools prefer not to think of and half of those in their late teens and early this, choosing instead to exclude pupils as part of twenties will try drugs, many of whom will do so a zero tolerance policy. Surely this flies in the regularly. The vast majority will come to no harm. face of a duty of care to those who need help Indeed many will see it as a useful and fun the most. experience – people forget that the reason people take drugs and alcohol is because they The Editor like them, despite the dangers. As professionals, Drugs and Alcohol Today • Volume 4 Issue 2 • July 2004 © Pavilion http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Drugs and Alcohol Today Emerald Publishing

Opinion

Drugs and Alcohol Today , Volume 4 (2): 1 – Jul 1, 2004

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1745-9265
DOI
10.1108/17459265200400018
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Sniffer dogs in schools Drugs testing is rife in schools, reveals a Druglink parents, policy makers and as adults, our report. Like all such campaigns, they will have a responsibility must be to empower young people short but powerful effect. They stigmatise young to say no if they want to and to prevent those people and install a sense of fear and mistrust, who do use from harm. That is best done in a above all they alienate the most vulnerable. trusting and open environment where those who Evidence shows that ad campaigns and shock need help the most feel they will be listened to tactics can help prevent drug use, but only among and offered help and information. those likely not to use or have problems with Drug problems in schoolchildren are usually drugs anyway. Those who use and are likely to related to family or behaviour problems. If they experience problems are the ones who miss out, go unnoticed this can lead to an escalation – often stigmatised, blamed reason, supporters say, for or encouraged to hide having drug tests and “what is being done to help pupils their problems. Only one sniffer dogs. But if they go who are ‘uncovered’ by the sniffer per cent of pupils are untreated, this can lead to dogs is often less important than believed to have tried greater problems, disease finding them in the first place” cocaine or heroin. Testing and exclusion. And herein therefore seems to be a very blunt instrument to lies the rub, what is being done to help pupils tackle a very complex and for many pupils a very who are ‘uncovered’ by the sniffer dogs is often sensitive issue. less important than finding them in the first Children must be encouraged to talk to place. Following the trauma and the stigma of parents and teachers. Drugs and alcohol is a part this approach, pupils, some of whom may be of all our lives, whether we like it or not. It is how very vulnerable, may have difficulty recovering we deal with it that matters. Sniffer dogs and and dealing with the consequences. But more testing put across a strong message – zero importantly, children will be left in the lurch to tolerance for drugs, which means trouble for prove a point or to be made examples of. Drug those ‘found’ using. Approaching a teacher to services for young people are in short supply and discuss drugs will not be high on the list of any many schools are not experienced in dealing with right-minded pupil in such circumstances. the complex issues vulnerable young people can Statistics show that up to a quarter of pupils have. Indeed many schools prefer not to think of and half of those in their late teens and early this, choosing instead to exclude pupils as part of twenties will try drugs, many of whom will do so a zero tolerance policy. Surely this flies in the regularly. The vast majority will come to no harm. face of a duty of care to those who need help Indeed many will see it as a useful and fun the most. experience – people forget that the reason people take drugs and alcohol is because they The Editor like them, despite the dangers. As professionals, Drugs and Alcohol Today • Volume 4 Issue 2 • July 2004 © Pavilion

Journal

Drugs and Alcohol TodayEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 1, 2004

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