This week, Brookstone School announced it will drug-test all its students in grades 8-12 starting in August 2019.
When we posted this story on Facebook, it sparked reactions that could be divided into three camps:
• “Absolutely ridiculous.”
• “Doesn’t matter. Brookstone is a private school and they can do whatever they want.”
My reaction to the news was to ask a question: Are they testing for alcohol? Alcohol is, after all, a drug.
The answer was no, at least not on a mandatory basis.
Brookstone parents will have the option of having their children tested for alcohol, but the results will be sent home for only the parents to see.
As the father of three teenage boys and one newly legal female drinker, I think this makes sense.
The testing policy, according to a statement issued by Brookstone, is in response to “a national drug crisis impacting all communities and all schools.”
In other words, opioids.
Whether in the form of prescription pills or heroin, the drug has indeed destroyed individuals, families, and towns and cities across America.
No question about it.
And one could argue that members of upper-middle-class and wealthy families are at even greater risk because it takes money to buy drugs, whether at the pharmacy or on the street.
So it makes sense for Brookstone, whose parents can afford private school and presumably any increased fees for drug testing, to choose this course of action.
My four children are either currently attending or have graduated from Columbus High School, which is in the Muscogee County School District. As Superintendent David Lewis told our reporter Mark Rice, none of the MCSD schools drug-tests students “due to the inherent costs associated with doing so, as well as the legal complexities related to this issue in the public school setting.”
So none of my children have been drug-tested at school, though they do have stories about drug dogs.
I would not mind if they were tested, though. I trust my children, but I know the prevalence of drugs and the kind of pressures teens face. Yes, I talk to them and keep my eye on them, but I can’t be everywhere all the time, and they sure wouldn’t want me to be.
And here’s another thing: I don’t know what it’s like to be a high school student during an opioid crisis.
I had my one experience with opioids as an adult recovering from hernia surgery. A week later, I had a second surgery. If you’re wondering what happened, let’s just say that when your surgeon tells you there’s only one person who never made a mistake and his words are in red in the Bible, it’s not a good thing.
So anyway, I had another surgery and got another prescription. But when I got home the second time, I decided to handle the pain and skip the drugs because they made me nauseous.
That’s the limit of my knowledge of opioids.
But like most adults, I know a lot about alcohol. Unfortunately, I do know what it’s like to be a high school student who drinks alcohol.
Today, that’s an advantage. I know how to talk to my kids about it. I know what to look for.
The thing that scares me about opioids is that you can’t smell it on your kids’ breath. You don’t find empty opioid cans in the woods behind your house.
It can hook them fast, and then you’d better find out about it before it’s too late.
It’s scary. And that’s why the leaders at Brookstone want to protect the children in their charge.
You can argue whether that’s their role, but it makes sense to me.