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Drug testing in schools
Drugs in UK schools
Drug use is an increasing problem in the teenage population and is affecting younger and younger children in the UK. Evidence from research suggests that the risk of pupils coming to school under the influence of drugs or bringing drugs into school has increased dramatically over the last 10 years. Drugs can not only affect the child that is taking them but may have a knock on effect on other pupils by disruptive behaviour affecting the learning and happiness of other students and increasing peer pressure to take drugs.
Drug use outside school can also impact on school behaviour and attainment for the pupils taking the drugs and also those around them. Cannabis & synthetic Cannabis (K2 ) in particular can have marked affects on personality and mental health, and drugs may also increase the risk of violent outbursts and aggressive behaviour in pupils taking them.
Headteachers have a duty to the pupils in their care not only to ensure a safe school enviroment, and a good learning enviroment but also to look out for the welfare of their pupils and to spot issues like drug abuse. Pupils dealing drugs and selling them to other pupils is alo an increasing risk in schools and teachers need to be vigilant.
Consent is required to perform a drug test
If you wish to test pupils, you must first obtain their consent and also the consent of their parents. Either may refuse and this should be documented.
Make sure that you have a drug and alcohol testing policy
As drug use in now so prevalent in the UK teenage population, it is advisable that all schools and in particular secondary schools, have a drug and alcohol policy that makes it very clear that attending school while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or bringing drugs into school is not acceptable. In this policy you can also layout your drug testing policy.
What drugs should we screen for in schools ?
The obvious drugs to screen for are Cannabis & Synthetic CannabisThese two are the drugs you are most likely to test positive for in this age group.
It is also worth testing for Ketamine, Opiates, Amphetamines, MDMA (Ecstasy), Methamphetamine (crystal meth) and Benzodiazepines but these will be detected less often than Cannabis. Some schools also test for Cotinine (smoking detection test )
We have a 10 panel drug testing kit that is ideal for schools as it detects all these drugs.
Which drug testing kits should we use ?
The choice is between urine drug testing kits (as shown in the photo) and saliva (oral mouth swab testing) .Saliva drug testing will tell you whether a pupil is under the influence of drugs while they are at school as the detection period is quite short. Urine drug testing will tell you if they are using drugs outside of school hours and at weekends as the detection period for drugs is much longer. You will get more positive drug test results if you go for urine screening.
Integrated cup urine drug testing kits
Random drug testing is not common yet in UK schools
Random drug testing is where you randomly test your student population for drugs at random intervals. This is not common yet in the UK. Random drug testing or the threat of it, is slowly being introduced in some schools. This is more common in boarding schools where the pupils spend all of their time, often for months at a time. Random drug testing may also be introduced for a period of time following an incident in the school , which has been confirmed as drug related.
Random drug screening is not popular in schools as it is more time consuming and more costly than post incident testing , and most of your results would be negative, unless there was a major drug problem in the school.
Post incident drug testing is the most common from of drug testing in UK schools
The most frequent type of drug testing in schools is when an incident or accident has happened in a school, and the pupil or pupils involved are thought to be under the influence of drugs. The drug test is performed to confirm or refute the suspicion.
Confirming postive drug test results
Any drug screening results that are not negative (ie positive ) will need to be confrimed with a laboratory chain of custody urine drug test pack if you intend to take any disciplinary action.