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Clements High School: Policy on Drug and Alcohol Need Essay

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Updated: Sep 28th, 2021

Introduction

Clements High School is a public school located in Sugarland, Texas with a population of 2,509 for the school year August 2007 to June 2008 (Clements par. 6). As in other high schools, Clements implements policies to deter the use of drugs and alcohol by adolescent and teenage students. The school prohibits any activity that involves drugs and alcohol within the school premises. Violation of such policies will cause the suspension, expulsion, or sending of the violator to a behavior learning center. A heavier sanction involves the participation of the police department in the apprehension of violators. Evans-Whipp and Beyers (par. 9) said that the policy for first-time substance users in the US is notifying the parents or guardians by the school administrator (qt. in Ross et al. 1995; Small et al. 2001); violation of alcohol and another drug (AOD) policies would entail suspension, referral to a campus counselor, and participation in “student assistance program”; and for use of illegal drugs, the response to violators which occurred in 75 percent of schools would be a referral to local authorities (qt. in Small et al. 2001). However, high school students can evade the policies by using drugs and alcohol outside the school campus. Despite current efforts by the schools and the local and federal government, adolescent students taking drugs and alcohol continually rise.

A problem of substance abuse among the young

Substance abuse among the young is a significant “social and health problem in the United States, Australia and other Western nations” (Evans-Whipp and Beyers par. 1). According to Evans-Whipp and Beyers (par. 2), substance use by young individuals is viewed as a major international health concern (qt. in WHO 1997; WHO 1999; WHO 2001). The use of alcohol and other drugs increased during the last decade before 1999 (Evans-Whipp and Beyers par. 2 qt. in Bauman and Phongsavan 1999). They (par. 2 ) added that the use of substances by adolescents led to numerous “physical and social harms,” that includes “accidents, disrupted family and peer relationships, educational problems and overdose” (qt. in WHO 1997; WHO, 1999). Usage of drugs and alcohol also causes a lot of societal problems and triggers the commission of crimes. It has been medically proven that prolonged overuse of such substances produces dependence on the user and other negative effects ranging from mental, psychological, and physical infirmities.

The abuse of alcohol and other drugs, called “substance abuse”, may cause medical conditions and worsen existing ones, and have destroyed lives and families (Nissl par. 1). Overuse of alcohol resulted in the death of 100,000 persons in the US and Canada annually (Nissl par. 3). Studies revealed that alcohol is a frequent substance overused by 12 to 17 years old teenagers and a leading cause of automobile-related accidents (Nissl par. 3). Drinking alcohol tends to make people “engage in high-risk sexual behavior, have poor grades or job performance, use tobacco products, and experiment with illegal drugs” (Nissl par. 3). The use of drugs and alcohol might be a subconscious effort of an individual to counter depression (Nissl par. 3).

Long-time alcohol use damages the organs create medical conditions that result in “violence, accidents, social isolation, jail or prison time, and difficulties at work and home” (Nissl par. 5). Abuse of drugs includes the usage of illegal drugs (e.g. s include marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin, or other “street drugs”) and “legal prescription and nonprescription drugs” (Nissl par. 10). Since “club drugs” (e.g. ecstasy, ketamine, GHB, Rohypnol, LSD) can be bought at clubs, night dances, etc. (Nissl par. 11), these activities should also be monitored and regulated. Teens can be victims of sexual assault on events where such kinds of drugs are taken (Nissl par. 11). An estimate of one-half of the high school seniors in the US disclosed having taken alcohol or illegal drug, Nissl (par. 16) said. Abuse of such substance by this age bracket raises the danger of engaging in crime, “high-risk sexual behavior, accidents, and injuries (Nissl par. 16). Teenagers who take alcohol and drugs, likewise perform poorly in school and are more prone to dropping out (Nissl par. 16).

The study of Bridget Grant and Deborah Dawson in 1997 revealed that over 40 percent of persons who started to drink before the age of 14 became alcohol-dependent while only 10 percent of the subjects who started drinking at 20 years of age and older became alcohol-dependent (Hallford and Frame par. 2). In like manner, the Denise Kandel and Kazuo Yamaguchi study in 1993 showed that “adolescents who use harder drugs” (e,g, cocaine or crack) started using either one of the “gateway drugs” (e.g. cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana) “two years earlier than adolescents who did not advance to harder drugs” (Hallford and Frame par. 2).

The rationale for the prohibition of drug and alcohol and drug use is to keep high school students, being young and vulnerable to vices, from substances that could ruin their future or harm their physical being. Only persons of legal age are allowed to drink alcohol while illegal drugs can never be used legally. Other types of drugs can be allowed only for therapeutic or medical use. Usage by adolescents and teenagers can be attributed to societal and peer influences, family and psychological problems, image building, or simply the enjoyment one gets from taking in such substances.

The school is seen as a venue for substance use prevention and school policies on substance use play a major role in the promotion of health in schools” (Evans-Whipp and Beyers par. 1). Since schools should teach morals, values, and proper attitude and behavior to students so that they can live an upright life, they are appropriately situated to impose a total ban on the use of drugs and alcohol inside the campuses and during school events. Evans-Whipp and Beyers (par. 3) said that the school is an advantageous venue for students to see “behavioral models and interact with others who have a different outlook on substance use (qt. in Durlak 1997; Baum 1998; Hawkins et al. 1998; Bond et al. 2001; Catford 2001; Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services 2001; Butler et al. 2002; Hallford and Van Dorn 2002).

The “health-promoting schools,” a program structure supported by WHO (qt. in WHO 1996), which was later backed by European countries and Australia mirrors the principle that schools are partners in the promotion of learning and healthy development among adolescents and teenagers (Evans-Whipp and Beyers par. 3). Such health-promoting schools may utilize different approaches to enhance their roles through curricula modification, teaching, and new school policies (Evans-Whipp and Beyers par. 3). However, Evans-Whipp and Beyers (par. 4) highlighted that school policies on drugs were given “less empirical attention than drug education curricula and programs” (qt. in White and Pitts 1998; Flay 2000) which play a vital role in laying norms of behavior and establishment of rules for control of student behavior (qt. in Goodstadt 1989).

Substance abuse by adolescents and its injurious effects worry the “parents, policymakers, teachers and public health officials” (Hallford and Frame par. 1). However, youth in pre-adolescent to late adolescent stages continually experiment with substances (Hallford and Frame par. 1). Trying out substances at very young ages becomes problematic when frequency increases, alone and undergoing emotional changes (Hallford and Frame par. 1). Substance abuse was also linked to “risky sexual behavior, delinquent behavior, and low school achievement” (Hallford and Frame par. 1).

The federal government control over the problem

The government and private institutions collaborate to curb or lessen substance use by teenage and adolescent students. The Office of National Drug Policy provides funding for schools to participate in substance use prevention and a research agency was established for this purpose (Baxter 2 par. 2). The federal government has continually been involved since the 1990s in the dissemination of prevention programs and enjoin school districts to select, implement and evaluate programs on substance use reduction to qualify for funding from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program (Hallford and Frame par. 14). Other government agencies (National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention) also provide funding with the federal agencies, scientific groups, and private foundations laying the guidelines and criteria for evidence assessment on the efficacy of the programs (Hallford and Frame par. 14).

Written policies in the use of tobacco are widely utilized in the US elementary, middle and junior, as well as senior high schools, wherein two-thirds of all schools, prohibit everyone in the school buildings and campuses to smoke and also during events sponsored by schools (qt. in Small et al. 2001). The modified policy can equally be adopted and implemented in alcohol and drug use.

There is 39.5 percent of all schools that engaged student violators of alcohol prohibition in assistance programs while 44.8 percent of schools use such programs for illegal drug use (Evans-Whipp and Beyers par. 9). In the US, drug-testing in more than 1,200 schools carried out proved to be successful in the reduction of the use of drugs of students (Baxter 1 par. 3). Implementation of a drug-testing program in Hunterdon Central Regional High School in New Jersey caused a marked decrease in “cocaine use by seniors from 13% to 4% after two years (Baxter 1 par. 4). In Autauga Country, Alabama, schools experienced a decrease from 19% to 12% of marijuana use (Baxter 1 par. 4). On the other hand, 85% of Indiana schools had an increase in drug use when drug-testing ceased, and only declined when testing was continued (Baxter 1 par. 4). In the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse by Columbia University, 67 percent of teenagers and 60 percent conceded that undertaking drug tests effectively prevent teenagers from taking illicit drugs (Baxter 1 par. 5). Drug-testing is not punitive, not punishing students, and provides a good reason for students to refuse when pressured by peers to take drugs (Baxter 1 par. 6-7).

Evans-Whipp and Beyers (par. 10) said that stricter penalty to younger violators is seen to benefit them more than older students, in that middle and junior high schools impose out-of-school suspensions for tobacco violations while senior high schools merely impose in-school suspension or detention (qt. in Ross et al. 1995).

Generally, records showed that there were lesser school policies on alcohol and drugs use than in tobacco use (Evans-Whipp and Beyers par. 8). However, Evans-Whipp and Beyers (par. 8) emphasized that the US has the majority of its schools implementing written policies on the prohibition on alcohol and drug use by students (qt. in Ross et al. 1995; Crossett et al. 1999; Small et al. 2001). Furthermore, Evans-Whipp and Beyers (par. 8) mentioned that more than two-thirds of schools in the US declared specific areas in the school campus as drug-free (qt. in Ross et al. 1995).

Victoria, Australia, and Washington, USA embarked on a research project called the International Youth Development Study (IYDS) to study youth development in congruence with the use of substances and drug policies of schools (Evans-Whipp and Beyers par. 20). Evans-Whipp and Beyers (par. 20) mentioned that while the schools determine particular elements of drug policies, national, state, and district authorities provide general guidelines for schools to follow (qt. in Small et al. 2001). The general objective of the federal drug policy is the diminution in the amount of drug use (qt. in Caulkins and Reuter 1997) to be implemented at the school level with “abstinence-based and reflect zero tolerance for substance use” (Evans-Whipp par. 21). Under zero tolerance, possession, use, or sale of alcohol and drugs shall be punished severely with suspension, expulsion, or referral to law enforcement authorities (Evans-Whipp par. 21).

Evans-Whipp and Beyers (par. 22) said that many schools have written policies on zero tolerance (qt. Martin et al. 1999; Small et al. 2001) but implementation is rather difficult, causing dilemmas on the part of administrators, mentors, and counselors (qt. in Pentz et al. 1997), since suspension or expulsion of a student would not deter him/her from further use of drugs and would bar the school from involvement in the reform of the user (qt. in Hallfors and Van Dorn 2002).

Conclusion

Evidence showed that young individuals tend to be more vulnerable to drug and alcohol use and prone to substance abuse and overuse later in life. But still, many schools have no comprehensive written policies on drug and alcohol use. Therefore, Clements High School should adopt a comprehensive written policy to curb alcohol and drug use. Lessening consumption of these young people must not be the only goal of Clements but total abstinence, especially that they are still at a tender age. Since drugs and alcohol use had not shown any benefit to the user, it is just proper that adolescents and teenagers should not initiate a move taste such substances. But for those who have already used such substances, an information campaign directed towards them should be made to explain the ill effects and deaths such substances caused, and that the substances will only ruin their future and lives.

I agree that expulsion from school is not the proper sanction for violating the existing drug and alcohol policies of Clements High School. Out-of-school or in-school suspensions, or participation in community activities, would be the appropriate sanctions so that the violator, during the period of the sanction, can be included in the training, rehabilitation, or reform programs that would transform the point-of-view of the violators towards drugs, alcohol, family, and society and inculcate values and norms for a happy and successful life.

Since evidence and studies point out that drug testing is an effective approach to prevent early drug use (Baxter 2 par. 4), Clements High School can utilize this approach for the good of its students. “Random breath testing, roadside drug testing, and testing in workplaces to ensure a safe environment” are conducted to adults, and funding are solicited for such purpose (Baxter 2 par. 3). Funding can also be solicited to undertake this test for the good health and safety of minors. Government agencies would be willing to provide financial support if the program proved to be effective.

References

Baxter, Jo. The Age. 2008. Web.

Clements High School. “About Clements High School.” CHS. 2008. Web.

Evans-Whipp, Tracy, Jennifer M. Beyers, Sian Lloyd, Andrea N. Lafazia, John W. Toumbourou, Michael W. Arthur and Richard F. Catalino. 13.2 (2004): 227-234. Web.

Hallfors, Denise E. and Laura Frame. Child Development Reference. 7 (2008). Web.

Nissl, Jan. “Alcohol and Drug Problems.” Peace Health. 2007. Web.

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