Drug-sniffing dogs in the schools: what’s the rationale?

drugsniffingdog In last week’s Northfield News: School search comes up empty. Their editorial this week: Drug dog search good start at schools. Kiffi Summa suggested in Tracy’s Locally Grown Open Mic blog post that we blog on this topic and Curt Benson followed up. I’ve included their comments below. I’ve not made up my own mind about this but I wish there was something on the Northfield School District’s web site that explained the rationale for its policy and procedures. (continued)

The Northfield Student Citizenship Handbook states on page 11:

If conditions warrant technology (including drug sniffing dogs, cameras, metal detectors, etc.) may be used to ensure safety of students, staff, buildings and grounds.

Kiffi Summa wrote:

I think a good discussion for this “open mic” section of LG might center on the drug dog searches at the high school.

The NF News has an editorial on this subject today which I frankly think is a very shallow comment on this important event.

I don’t view the search as one which has any value except to say to those who are uniformed by a realistic youth perspective, and who want to have simple assurances, that “something is being done”.

In many various meetings, in many various venues, the kids have essentially said, “wha d’ya think, we’re stupid? Kids don’t keep drugs in their lockers, which they know can be searched!”
I would feel better about the school district taking the drug issues seriously, if they would listen to the kids, and stop acting defensively.
These drug dog searches are promoting a false sense of reality; a false sense of security.

And on a purely $$$ point, what is the cost of these searches? the dogs belong to Rice County I believe, and they and their handlers have an assignable cost ( although I asked what that cost was at a follow up meeting to the big drug conversations last year, I could not get an answer, even asking repeatedly). It became quite obvious the cost was not going to be discussed.

Is the cost of these searches borne by the school dist? What is the cost per hour, dogs and handlers, and for the entire event? And is that cost covered by the NF payment of $4500 annually to the Rice County Drug Task Force? I would imagine it is not.

For these reasons, and more, I think a larger and more factual exploration of the subject is warranted.

Curt Benson wrote:

Kiffi, I agree that this a subject worth discussing. I was told that Rice County has one dog. The other dogs (and handlers I presume) were borrowed from other counties for this last search.

I remember you asking about the cost of the first search at the meeting you reference and remember that you weren’t satisfied with the answer. I didn’t think the officers were being purposely misleading. It was hard for them to put a price tag on the searches because the counties already had dogs–and they were used for other purposes besides searching schools. And the counties help each other out as sort of a professional courtesy. I do remember being told that the school system did not have to write a check for the search.

Obviously, the dogs and handlers aren’t free. Somebody, somewhere pays for them. But I can see why it would be hard to put a valid number on what a single search of a school costs.

52 Comments

  1. Rob Hardy said:

    I agree with Kiffi. The use of drug-sniffing dogs is heavy-handed, possibly counterproductive, and sends a bad message to youth. In a civics or American history class, a student may learn about the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, but in practice the school is demonstrating how the Constitution can be circumvented, and how precedent treats public school students as second-class citizens. Instead of educating by example, and fostering good citizenship, the school is encouraging an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion.

    Instead of drug-sniffing dogs, how about listening? How about education? That’s the school’s job, after all. How about living up to the mission of preparing students to be responsible citizens under the Constitution, instead of teaching them that fear and suspicion trump civil rights and justice?

    Drug use among our youth is a serious issue. Sweeps of the school by drug-sniffing dogs have turned up nothing. We should be putting our resources into something more productive.

    January 31, 2009
  2. Peter Millin said:

    I believe these kind of searches should happen more often. There is no place for drugs in school.
    The school has the responsibility to maintain a safe environment for all students.

    Given the amount of drug addicts in a small town like Northfield it has become obvious that talking an educating alone is not doing the job.

    Good job.

    Thanks

    January 31, 2009
  3. David Ludescher said:

    1200 students, 2 searches, 0 drugs. The kids are faster learners than the adults.

    January 31, 2009
  4. Peter, it’s just not okay to treat all of the students like criminals on the (thus far unsubstantiated) assumption that some of them might have drugs at school. Rob said it very well: “Instead of drug-sniffing dogs, how about listening?” Drug-sniffing dogs just add to an institutional, prison-like atmosphere that prevents teachers and students from actually getting to know each other — and prevents teachers from helping students who have problems.

    January 31, 2009
  5. Peter Millin said:

    Sean,
    Nobody has treated students like criminals. The school has done what it should do, keeping good kids safe from a few bad apples.
    Do we have to wait before somebody overdoses before we have a more substantiated reason? Not in my opinion. Prevention is always the best medicine.

    If you keep your nose clean there is nothing you have to worry about.

    January 31, 2009
  6. John S. Thomas said:

    Sean,

    With the high teacher to student ratios that our schools have right now, do you think that the teachers actually get to know all of their students at the level you hope?

    The school district can only do what it can within its boundaries, and frankly, even if you were an addict, you would have to be a darn fool to bring drugs to school property.

    I feel that there are many methods that should be employed WITHIN THE COMMUNITY that would be more effective, and the school district is only one entity that needs to come to the table.

    Sean, dog searches are nothing new. I have been out of high school for 25 years, and they were doing it then. Does it make it right? No. Am I opposed to the school district doing it? Probably. My question is, what would the school district do other than expel the student?

    I 100% believe that the school should be a safe, secure environment where learning is fostered. Northfield has it pretty good compared to cities back east and schools in the metro. I am not saying that our schools are without problems, and I do still think there is a very serious drug problem in Northfield. Just because we have had a few arrests, does not mean that it has gone away. To the best of my knowledge, they are not doing pat downs, car inspections, or walking through metal detectors to enter the building yet, nor do they have chain link over the windows and doors. Students are to the best of my knowledge restricted to campus, or locked in their classrooms.

    It seems like every single tool that this community or the school district has attempted has been poo-poo’d by someone. DARE has had its critics (frankly, its dated) and the searches have not resulted in any action. Using fear and intimidation will not keep our youth off drugs, but I keep hoping EFFECTIVE education will.

    I think that getting a group of youth together to be the face of an educational effort to their peers, with support and backing of various organizations within the community is the way to go. Anti-drug assemblies and other counseling and healthy initiative programs should be more aggressively brought to the students.

    Drugs are only one of the many things that impact our youth. Teen Drinking, Drugs, Pregnancy, Cell phone use while driving, excessive speed, distracted drivers,… the list of things is quite large, and the risk to our youth is enormous.

    All we can do is educate, and hope like heck that our youth make smart choices. We cannot be overbearing and draconian with harsh enforcement efforts, as that will only cause the youth to rebel to any authority figure.

    It takes a team, and a community to keep our kids safe. Involve them, listen to them, give them support, and show compassion and step in and help.

    I have fourth grader in school, and the next few years scare the hell out of me as a parent. All I can do is educate, listen, mentor, and talk to my son, and pray that he will make the best choice available in any given situation.

    January 31, 2009
  7. John S. Thomas said:

    That should read, NOT restricted to campus or locked in there rooms.

    January 31, 2009
  8. Peter, you wrote:

    The school has done what it should do, keeping good kids safe from a few bad apples.

    Well, first off, I object to your characterization of kids with drug problems as “bad apples.” They’re all good people — the “bad apples” just need help. Because they’re not simply scum to be scrubbed off a sparkly clean school, John’s point — “My question is, what would the school district do other than expel the student?” — is very valid.

    Second, I don’t think there is a substantial enough safety concern to warrant drug dogs. Unlike guns, drugs do not pose an immediate safety concern to the school. They can harm the students, but they harm the students just as much whether or not they’re stored and sold on or off-campus.

    Students are to the best of my knowledge [not] restricted to campus, or locked in their classrooms.

    I don’t think it’s really relevant that there are some dissimilarities between prison and Northfield High School, John. The way the students’ privacy is being treated is prison-like: granting it very little respect for the sake of very little benefit.

    January 31, 2009
  9. kiffi summa said:

    Peter: You have often commented about wasteful gov’t spending, so I find your comment about More searches to be a conflict.
    The kids do NOT keep their drugs in their lockers: IF they have drugs in school, they are likely to keep them on their person, which cannot be searched.
    They understand their lockers CAN be searched, by the administration, or dogs.
    These searches cost ‘resources’, both personnel and dollars.
    Law enforcement says its resources are stretched to the limit.
    Searching lockers, and finding nothing, when the experts on this subject (where drugs are kept if they are brought to school) say they are not ever kept in lockers, gives a false assurance, doing nothing to correct the problem.

    Therefore: would not an efficient use of both personnel and dollars suggest that these resources could be put to more productive practices which are reality based?

    January 31, 2009
  10. Peter Millin said:

    Kiffi,

    I don’t believe that these searches are wasteful, their are other more wasteful things we could be saving money on.

    The notion that if we just talk to the kids will make the drug problem go away, is a very optimistic assessment.

    Opportunity will create use and if we are diligent we might be able to catch one or two.
    Of course searches should not be the only alternatives, but it certainly shouldn’t be excluded either.

    I strongly believe that the prospect of a random search will some make think twice before bringing any of the drugs to school.
    Unfortunately a lot of parents are pretty clueless about drugs or don’t believe that a “little pot” is all that harmful.
    This is far from the truth. Pot is a gateway drug which lowers ones moral scruples to even try drugs.

    So if it takes random searches to keep some kids away from them I am all for it.
    I have three children in the Northfield school system and don’t mind those searches at all.

    January 31, 2009
  11. The notion that if we just talk to the kids will make the drug problem go away, is a very optimistic assessment.

    True, but is it any more optimistic than the notion that if we just throw the “bad apples” out, it will solve the problem?

    Pot is a gateway drug which lowers ones moral scruples to even try drugs.

    Peter, this is just outrageous. Drug use is not a moral issue. It’s a health issue. Framing it in moral terms is false and unhelpful.

    January 31, 2009
  12. William Siemers said:

    Forget the lockers…every body knows the piano player has the pot….

    February 1, 2009
  13. Peter Millin said:

    Sean,

    It has to be both talk and action.

    When I said moral scruples I was referring to, that most people have a natural aversion to do drugs.
    Pot, because it is seen as harmless, is the first step to overcome this natural aversion.

    Sorry If i haven’t made myself clear enough.

    February 1, 2009
  14. Rob Hardy said:

    This is from the abstract of an article on “The Role of Schools in Combating Illicit Substance Abuse” in Pediatrics:

    A student
    undergoing individualized intervention
    for using illicit substances merits
    privacy. This requires that awareness
    of the student’s situation be limited
    to parents, the student’s physician,
    and only those designated school
    health officials with a need to know.

    At the very least, the use of drug-sniffing dogs during school hours limits the chances that intervention will remain private. The use of drug-sniffing dogs seems to indicate that the school is more interested in shaming and blaming, than in offering help. These heavy-handed efforts at policing will only drive the behavior deeper underground (as David L. points out, “1200 students, 2 searches, 0 drugs”) when we should be striving to bring it to light and to offer help. Would you ask for help from someone who sicks dogs on you?

    February 1, 2009
  15. Peter Millin said:

    Rob,
    I am all for private intervention and the right to anonymity of those affected by this disease.
    However we who are not affected by addiction have rights too, on of them is to monitor the influx of drugs in to our schools.
    Why do I have to subject my kids to drug exposure in schools for sake of privacy of a few? Where are my rights in this?

    February 1, 2009
  16. kiffi summa said:

    Peter: Both drugs, and Your rights are all around you, as both you and your children live in and face a world where drugs are all around all of us.
    Drugs are , as you know, just one form of addictive behavior; there are others just as physically and mentally/emotionally destructive. Addiction rather than benign use is the issue in any problematic (?) or anti-social behavior, or self destructive behavior.

    If you can drink alcohol, without being a ‘drunk’, then you can resist the negative effects of addictive behavior.
    If you can take prescription pain medicine judiciously, if needed, without becoming addicted then you have exercised cautionary behavior.

    A lot of kids get involved with drugs because they are self-medicating for other untreated issues. This is why the talk, the privacy, the individual attention, rather than a broader,’shotgun’ approach is necessary.

    Your rights are not violated by drugs existing in our society, but your kids , or any kids or adults may be impacted if they have untreated problems that cannot be faced.

    February 1, 2009
  17. Martha Cashman said:

    Kiffi,
    Excellent rebuttal. You are right-on with your comments/response to Peter. Not one parent I know ever dreams that their child will ever become involved with drugs — of any kind (including cigarettes and alcohol) — but it happens. Even to the best of families, the best of parents.

    February 1, 2009
  18. Peter Millin said:

    Kiffi,

    Kids who decide to do drugs will not open up their problems to people around them. Especially not to their parents and teachers.
    If you believe that the solution in preventing drugs talking, then the current evidence of widespread drug use, disproves your assumption.
    If it would be that simple we wouldn’t have such a widespread problem.

    I look at the drug sniffing dogs more as an deterrent then the final solution to an addicts problem.
    Part of bringing an addict to admit his/her problem is to show some tough love. BUT, unless the addict is willing to change, no amount of therapy will ever help him/her.

    Unfortunately there is an substantial amount of people who don’t believe that pot is a serious issue. Some misguided people actually are thinking about having it legalized.

    This notion of legalization has created an environment where some kids get the wrong message, that it is alright to smoke pot. Even more disturbingly, some think that pot is harmless. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    We are happily enforcing laws, designed to ban tobacco (which is legal) from private establishments, but balk at the notion to enforce drug laws in schools? This doesn’t sound logical to me.

    I do have a right as a parent to demand, that the school does everything humanly possible to keep drugs out of the schools.
    If it takes monthly searches by dogs in combination with other programs, so be it.

    You are right that every person reacts differently to different substances, but can we use that as a foundation to implement law?

    February 2, 2009
  19. Anne Bretts said:

    CNN has an interesting story on a new study that outlines the potential for addiction. It notes that genetics are a huge factor, which is problematic because the people most prone to addiction are likely to have parents and families who have their own issues and can’t or won’t help.
    Choice is part of the problem, but it’s far more complicated when your brain chemistry and genes are part of the mix. Fact is 10 people could start drinking at 13 and drink the same amount each day and not everyone will become addicted. Drugs are even more complex because some of them can actually change brain chemistry and cause dependence in people who aren’t prone to addiction.
    Bottom line is that dog searches make some people feel like they’re doing something, because people have a strong need to feel that they’re not helpless, when so often they are. link text

    February 2, 2009
  20. Peter Millin said:

    Anne,

    You make some good points and thank you for the link.

    I would only add, that no matter what type of treatment and addict chooses, unless he/she is willing to get better none of them will work.

    Fact is, that despite an increase of awareness and more choices in treatment, numbers of addicts have gone up, not down.

    Maybe it looks like a desperate move to have dogs looking for drugs and I wish we wouldn’t have to do this, but we have tried a lot of other options before we got here.
    In absence of better options we should give this some time and judge by the results.

    February 3, 2009
  21. Bright Spencer said:

    Let me add one point to Anne’s last post and that is the element of surprize that drugs of any sort can provide…a man or woman might have the same amount of drinks or pills everyday for ten years and then one day the body reacts in a whole new way and suddenly finds out what the inside of an ambulance looks like if they are lucky enough to be conscious.

    February 3, 2009
  22. Bruce Anderson said:

    I’d like to take this opportunity to agree wholeheartedly with David L’s succinct comment:

    1200 students, 2 searches, 0 drugs. The kids are faster learners than the adults.

    Also, with Anne Bretts’ comment:

    Bottom line is that dog searches make some people feel like they’re doing something, because people have a strong need to feel that they’re not helpless, when so often they are.

    The impulse to do SOMETHING is certainly understandable, given the six tragic overdose deaths in the past several years. However, doing something that doesn’t help solve the problem can be counterproductive if it takes any attention/resources away from other actions that might actually make a difference.

    My son is a junior at the high school, and he is aware of drug-using behavior (i.e. kids smoking pot at a certain spot on the school grounds), but when asked specifically if he feels personally affected at all by drug use/sales by others on campus, he emphatically responds “no.”

    Drug-related activity is an unfortunate fact of life for our high school students, as it has been for decades, and we shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking that a get-tough-with-drug-sniffing-dogs approach is going to make any difference. I wish I had some strong suggestions as to what would make more of a difference, but I’m afraid I don’t have much to add to the useful comments made by Rob, Kiffi and others.

    February 3, 2009
  23. john george said:

    There are a lot of very good perspectives and opinions posted on this thread. Just a thought on the various responsibilities of the institutions and people involved with this problem. The school is charged by state law and the school board with making sure there are no drugs on their premises. It is not their responsibility to rehabilitate or stem the use of drugs by teenagers. The drug sniffing dogs are just a tool to see how well the students are complying. From Bruce’s son’s comment, it would appear to me that just asking the kids if they are bringing anything onto campus is not going to give any kind of accurate indication.

    Bruce- Your comment, “…My son is a junior at the high school, and he is aware of drug-using behavior (i.e. kids smoking pot at a certain spot on the school grounds), but when asked specifically if he feels personally affected at all by drug use/sales by others on campus, he emphatically responds ‘no.’…” is just an example of why we have a drug problem in the first place. This attitude just enables the kids experimenting with gateway drugs to continue their path down the road to addiction. Not personally affected?! What a head in the sand attitude! Nothing is going to be accomplished in the battle to stem drug use among teenagers until we realize that we all, as a society, are personally affected. How, you might ask? Here are real people with real problems that are not being resolved for them, so they seek escape. What potential is lost in these young people? What is the cost to society in ruined lives and social services expended to try to help them? Don’t tell me we are not “personally affected” by this type of passive, blind affirmation of drug use! I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that argument, and as you can tell, I feel pretty strongly about it.

    What these people need are friends that will be honest with them and not just
    “play along” until they are dead. They need parents that are not afraid to confront their own responsibilities and problems so they can help their teenagers. They need youth leaders that have the courage to stand up to them and confront them with the truth. If Hillary was correct in her assertion that it takes a village to raise a child, then the village had better present an organized front rather than quibble amongst ourselves about whether someone’s “rights” are being threatened. United, we stand. Divided, we will surely fall.

    February 3, 2009
  24. john george said:

    For those of you who think that the Prohibiton laws did not affect alcohol consumption, here is an interesting little bit of research:

    We estimate the consumption of alcohol during Prohibition using mortality, mental health and crime statistics. We find that alcohol consumption fell sharply at the beginning of Prohibition, to approximately 30 percent of its pre-Prohibition level. During the next several years, however, alcohol consumption increased sharply, to about 60-70 percent of its pre-prohibition level. The level of consumption was virtually the same immediately after Prohibition as during the latter part of Prohibition, although consumption increased to approximately its pre-Prohibition level during the subsequent decade.

    *Published: The American Economic Review, Vol. 81, No. 2, pp. 242-247, (May 1991).

    From this, it would appear that prohibition did produce a net reduction in alcohol consumption. Those of you who say it did not, where do you get your statistics?

    February 3, 2009
  25. kiffi summa said:

    I sense severe thread drift here…… this is not about historic alcohol consumption statistics.
    It is about the effects of drug dog searches in the schools, and the additional burden those searches place on the use of resources supported by taxpayer dollars, as well as the ‘climate’ it produces in the school……. and then whether the results of those actions are in any way productive, or even helpful, to the base problem.

    February 4, 2009
  26. William Siemers said:

    John G…

    Prohibition also saw an increase in accidental alcohol related deaths. Unregulated manufacture, distribution and retail sale, resulted in consumers using products that were of uncertain potency, contaminated, or just plain bogus.

    February 4, 2009
  27. Bright Spencer said:

    I think the dogs in school keep the notion alive that the drug issue is serious and that man’s best friend is using his or her nose to help out.
    Also, whenever we try to get a thing 100% perfectly right, it is much harder than getting the first 95% right.
    And, Kids will hide stuff in their locker, either by mistake, say leaving something in their coat pocket or liner or hidden in a book from last week.
    Seeing what happens to entire neighborhoods and schools in Chicago, I would be on the preventive side because once a drug culture gets firmly entrenched, people give up and dealers get more territorial and people start moving away from, not into town.

    February 4, 2009
  28. Anthony Pierre said:

    maybe it is time to legalize drugs and tax them.

    February 4, 2009
  29. kiffi summa said:

    AP : LOL….way too practical an approach! Most people would rather b** about those ‘worthless kids’, while driving to the Muni with their neighbor to pick up all the beer two guys can carry and oh, don’t forget mom’s cigarettes!

    February 4, 2009
  30. Anthony Pierre said:

    kiffi, a lot of the people here are brainwashed by the propaganda spewed forth by the ‘war on drugs’.

    Someone should do the math on how much this 30+ year war has drained the country.

    Then someone else do the math on how much we could have had by legalizing it.

    I think this guy does a good job

    http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/Editorial-Page.htm?InfoNo=017998

    February 4, 2009
  31. Peter Millin said:

    Kiffi,

    You are painting with a very broad brush here.

    The cost of treating the alcohol and tobacco related cost of addiction is quiet high. Adding pot and the subsequent increase of usage in harder drugs will only compound health care costs.

    Why should I have to pay for people who are foolish enough to drink, smoke or do drugs?

    Yours and Anthony’s logic is a bit perplexing to me. We are losing the battle against drugs and the solution is to legalize it? Sounds like the pushers have won here.

    Pot is not a harmless drug and believe me I know what I am talking about.

    I have lived in Amsterdam for two years and saw what “legalization” does to a city. It’s not pretty.

    February 4, 2009
  32. Anthony Pierre said:

    Check out the website I posted Peter, it makes sense.

    February 4, 2009
  33. kiffi summa said:

    Peter: All I was saying, in a more cynical tone than usual, is whatever ‘we’re’ doing now, sure as heck isn’t working, so let’s try something else.
    We all pay the ‘costs’ of everything; we live on the earth. Sometimes people do foolish things and society pays. People can be foolish, helpless, make mistakes, or intentionally harm.

    I’m most concerned about those that do harm to all society under the guise of protecting the rest of us.

    February 4, 2009
  34. Griff Wigley said:

    John, your statement to Bruce, “Not personally affected?! What a head in the sand attitude!” is a putdown. You can express strong agreement with him (and by implication, his son) and even convey anger (tricky, but possible). Just do it without the insult.

    February 4, 2009
  35. Bruce Anderson said:

    John,

    I haven’t had a chance until now to respond to your comment above:

    Bruce- Your comment, “…My son is a
    junior at the high school, and he is
    aware of drug-using behavior (i.e.
    kids smoking pot at a certain spot on
    the school grounds), but when asked
    specifically if he feels personally
    affected at all by drug use/sales by
    others on campus, he emphatically
    responds ‘no.’…” is just an example of
    why we have a drug problem in the
    first place. This attitude just
    enables the kids experimenting with
    gateway drugs to continue their path
    down the road to addiction. Not
    personally affected?! What a head in
    the sand attitude! Nothing is going to
    be accomplished in the battle to stem
    drug use among teenagers until we
    realize that we all, as a society, are
    personally affected.

    Excuse me while I shake the sand out of my hair and explain where I was coming from in that statement.

    My son and I were simply talking about whether the drug use of other students had a direct effect on his daily school experience. His “no” answer was simply that. While he is well aware that there is drug use going on at school and in the broader community, it doesn’t have a day-to-day effect on his personal experience at school.

    My son and I both know intimately and intensely how destructive drug/alcohol abuse can be, as someone very close to me and my son has struggled with chemical dependency demons for the past 30+ years. I’ve taken part in a drug intervention for this individual, gone through therapy sessions, etc. My son has been involved in some of this activity and is fully aware of all of it. He and I are also fully aware of how devastating the opiate problem (among other drug and alcohol problems in town) have been and will continue to be. Of course we realize that we are all personally affected in that sense.

    I just don’t think a self-righteous attitude concerning zero tolerance for drugs is going to get us much of anywhere. We’ve been trying that for the past 40 years to no avail.

    February 4, 2009
  36. john george said:

    Bruce & Griff- Sorry I used this phrase. I did not mean it to be a put-down. My point, which I think is valid, if I can just express it properly, is that when we look the other way when we know people are doing illegal activities, we give passive approval of those activities. I have a concern about our seeming laxness to obey laws, be they speed limits or using a controled substance on school property. Whether you agree with a law or not, it is still a law. Laws are not made to be broken. They are made to bring order and the common good to society. Again, I’m sorry I offended you.

    February 4, 2009
  37. john george said:

    Anthony- I read your url, and I still come down on the side of Bright and Peter. I can understand these DEO’s discouragement in this “war.” Like the war on poverty, I’m not sure it can be won. But just because it is an uphill battle, does that mean we should give up the fight? Like Peter’s example of Amsterdam, the alternative is not pretty.

    Bruce- I agree that the “zero” tolerance may be a little unrealistic, but you have to start somewhere. My greatest concern is what the consequences are for the offense. Are these kids simply expelled? Are they remanded to some type of professional treatment? My kids have been out of school for about 8 years, so I’m not privy to current policies.

    As far as the dogs in the schools, I think it demonstrates the system’s seriousness to address the problem. There have been two tests, and both times the school has passed. I think David L. is correct in his assesment that the students are learning. Just because they are, does that mean we can back off now? Bruce’s son’s observation indicates to me that we should not. Unfortunately, security measures have become a common part of our life now. Just try taking a bottle of water past security at MSP.

    February 4, 2009
  38. john george said:

    William- The framers of the Prohibition laws would probably not have framed them if they had known what the results would be. The laws did decrease drinking during the period, but they opened up another can of worms in the process. This is an example of the government trying to impose a moral standard upon people from the outside without a change of heart in the people on the inside. Take a look at my discussion with Jerry F. in the Athiest Friendly” thread to see what I mean.

    February 4, 2009
  39. William Siemers said:

    John G….But the ‘results’ of the war on drugs have the very same consequences…

    Unregulated manufacture, distribution and retail sale, resulted in consumers using products that were of uncertain potency, contaminated, or just plain bogus.

    The legalization of pot is inevitable. It is virtually legal in California right now. Go to a doctor and get a prescription because of back pain, anxiety, colitis…etc., and go down to the pot club to get it filled. It is uncertain if this has led to more pot usage. As far as pot being a ‘gateway’ drug…maybe it is, but so is alcohol. For that matter, to a person with an addictive personality, anything that causes the release of endorphins, from running to a laughing jag, is a gateway drug. Anyway, the vast majority of people who use pot do not become heroin addicts.

    I also think we should consider the decriminalization of most other drugs. Addiction is a public health problem, not a crime problem. There must be a way to give certified addicts heroin and cocaine in controlled settings that also offer treatment options. This would eliminate at least half of the crime associated with the drug trade and at least half of the deaths from overdose, hepatitis and AIDS. But this kind of decriminalization would not eliminate illegal drug use by people who are not addicts. So, these folks, who use occasionally, would have to obtain their drugs outside of the public health system, and, of course, an illegal system would be there to service them. Still, information and materials to promote the least risk use of these drugs, and fully funded treatment to reduce or eliminate casual use, could be done through public health venues. In all cases, users should not face criminal charges for possession of drugs in small amounts for personal use.

    I agree that some addicts and users will quit through all the intercessions that the family and the ‘village’ can muster. And we should continue to do everything we can in that regard. But some users and addicts will not respond. These people need help too. Allowing them to more safely manage their addiction and use recognizes that need.

    February 5, 2009
  40. Bright Spencer said:

    Kiffi, another good point, in response to Peter’s not wanting to pay for other’s mistakes. I guess some people might think that making cars, making steel, chroming bumpers and giving up ten years off the last part of their lives might not be such a fun way to have to pay for others to ride around instead of walking barefoot to their destinations of choice either, but we have all done things in the name of progress that hurt ourselves and each other. We do this until we find better ways to reach our goals, or change our goals.

    February 5, 2009
  41. Peter Millin said:

    William,

    Helping addicts by giving them drugs won’t accomplish anything.

    Most addicts have to hit bottom before they can be helped, giving them drugs will delay the inevitable, which is death.

    February 5, 2009
  42. john george said:

    William- I believe that drug abuse is a symptom of deeper problems within the abuser. Until we have mechanisms in place to address these deeper problems, be they psychological, emotional or physical, then I don’t think legalization of the various substances will accomplish anything. Releasing endorphins through enjoyable activities is a normal process of the body. Proverbs says a merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. When a person must use a narcotic to produce an endorphin fix, then they have some unresolved problems that need to be resolved.

    February 5, 2009
  43. Max Jennings said:

    As a student of Northfield High School I was not bothered by the use of drug dogs in the school. I don’t have anything to hide and I understand that my locker is the school property and it is fully within their right to search it.

    I personally would have to say that I think that this discussion is ridiculous. The dogs in the building really didn’t bother the student population as far as I could tell (unless they had something to hide). And if you do have something in your locker that could get you in trouble, then I believe that you fully deserve to be caught. The school is an environment that I also spend five out of every seven days and I want it to be a healthy one.

    I understand that drug users need help and that punishing them harshly with no treatment component would be counterproductive, but if you actually bring drugs on to the campus I do think that you deserve to be caught and I don’t think that it is an invasion of your privacy to catch you at school. I am against any violations of the fourth amendment, but for me personally this doesn’t seem to apply. I understand that to some people it feels like the school is assuming that everyone is guilty until they are proven innocent, but they are merely making sure that the school they are charged with making safe and healthy for all students is safe and healthy.

    I am a close friend of Mr. Anderson’s son and I’d have to agree with him. It is very easy to be a student at the high school and have no contact with drugs. No that isn’t sticking your head in the sand, it’s simply arranging your life well and for the vast majority of students it works fine. It’s not a failing of us to “be aware” of the problem, or want to help those involved, it’s a situation derived from the fact that we made good choice in our lives and are reaping the benefits of them (I’m do understand that there are sometimes familial and environmental factors to drug use and when that is the case, it is very sad). There are people that make bad choices and end up doing drugs, but I do think that there should be a punishment, as on a certain level (barring external factors)I think that becoming involved with drugs is a personal failing. I do know a couple of strong people who had close friends that started using, and that wasn’t what they wanted, so they made an effort and found a new group of people whose opinions on drugs matched their own. My point is that it is possible to make good choices while others around you are making bad and maybe we’d be better of teaching that.

    My last point is that I don’t really think that the high school has as big a drug problem as many on this thread believe. The bigger problem is in the 20-27 age group.
    The high school’s real problem is under aged drinking (I’m not denying that some students use pot and a very few use harder drugs, I’m saying that the numbers are not as high as many here think they are). The mentality at the high school is that drinking is not that big a deal that it isn’t like taking drugs. That is the more important problem.

    February 5, 2009
  44. john george said:

    Max- Thanks for the first hand observations. It sounds very similar to when my son and daughter were in school. My daughter had an interesting and priveleged relationship with many of the high risk students in the school. Some had abuse problems (though I don’t think it was on campus). She became a trusted confidant, not because she joined in with the crowd, but because she remained free from the adictive behavior and still loved them. You can choose to live a drug free life. You don’t have to be enslaved and driven by your environment. Keep up the good work. It is young people like you who give my generation hope.

    February 5, 2009
  45. Curt Benson said:

    Max, thanks for your comments. As a parent of two recent NHS grads and one current student, I think your comments are reasonable and accurate.

    You wrote that the school’s bigger problem is under aged drinking. I talked with a couple current NHS students about this last week. I think they would agree with you, but they said that pot smoking goes with the drinking.

    One student said “In high school, everyone drinks. That’s just high school.”

    I questioned, “really, everyone?”

    The other student thought about it and said she thought probably half her classmates drank, but it seems like more, because the drinkers tend to be the more popular, visible, vocal kids.

    Max, I quibble a bit about your idea that the big problem in this town with drugs is in the 20-27 age group. I think it is true that this age group is where the most visible, tragic consequences of drug use have occurred. The recent heroin related deaths and heroin arrests took place in that age group. I don’t know how to prove it, but I confidently speculate that virtually all of those with problems in their twenties had problems with chemical abuse during their high school days.

    February 6, 2009
  46. William Siemers said:

    Peter M said

    Helping addicts by giving them drugs won’t accomplish anything. Most addicts have to hit bottom before they can be helped, giving them drugs will delay the inevitable, which is death.

    “Unlike alcohol or tobacco, heroin causes no ongoing toxicity to the tissues or organs of the body. Apart from causing some constipation, it appears to have no side effects in most who take it. When administered safely, its use may be consistent with a long and productive life. The principal harm comes from the risk of overdose, problems with injecting, drug impurities and adverse legal or financial consequences.”

    Source: Byrne, Andrew, MD, “Addict in the Family: How to Cope with the Long Haul” (Redfern, NSW, Australia: Tosca Press, 1996), pp. 33-34, available on the web at http://www.csdp.org/addict/.

    Peter…I agree that addicts often have to hit bottom before they can be helped. But generally that bottom has little to do with legality or illegality.

    John G…My point was that a person with an addictive personality and/or a genetic predisposition to addiction, has a different response to endorphin release than a ‘normal’ person. Hence innocuous and healthy endorphin releasing activites for most people can be problematic for an addictive personality.

    My basic point: Some addicts will refuse treatment that includes giving up drugs. They have, what is generally accepted to be, a disease. A disease should not have a treatment protocol that includes jail and the threat of jail. The patient’s disease control material should not, because of impurities and unknown quality, be itself life threatening. And the treatment should not force the patient to become part of a violent and criminal subculture in order to get what he needs to control the disease.

    February 7, 2009
  47. Peter Millin said:

    William,

    I disagree with your article…

    What are its long-term effects?

    Long-term effects of heroin appear
    after repeated use for some period of
    time.Chronic users may develop
    collapsed veins, infection of the
    heart lining and valves, abscesses,
    cellulites, and liver disease.
    Pulmonary complications, including
    various types of pneumonia, may result
    from the poor health condition of the
    abuser, as well as from heroin’s
    depressing effects on respiration.In
    addition to the effects of the drug
    itself, street heroin may have
    additives that do not really dissolve
    and result in clogging the blood
    vessels that lead to the lungs, liver,
    kidneys, or brain. This can cause
    infection or even death of small
    patches of cells in vital organs. With
    regular heroin use, tolerance
    develops. This means the abuser must
    use more heroin to achieve the same
    intensity or effect.

    As higher doses are used over time,
    physical dependence and addiction
    develop. With physical dependence, the
    body has adapted to the presence of
    the drug and withdrawal symptoms may
    occur if use is reduced or stopped.
    Withdrawal, which in regular abusers
    may occur as early as a few hours
    after the last administration,
    produces drug craving, restlessness,
    muscle and bone pain, insomnia,
    diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes
    with goose bumps (“cold turkey”),
    kicking movements (“kicking the
    habit”), and other symptoms. Major
    withdrawal symptoms peak between 48
    and 72 hours after the last does and
    subside after about a week. Sudden
    withdrawal by heavily dependent users
    who are in poor health can be fatal.

    February 9, 2009
  48. Peter Millin said:

    More on drug use: (link Mayo Clinic)

    Health. Drug use and addiction has
    many physical consequences that vary
    depending on which drug you use but
    may include delirium, seizures, coma,
    heart attack, respiratory failure,
    kidney damage, unconsciousness and
    sudden death. Recent research
    suggests that marijuana, which many
    consider to be a fairly harmless
    substance, may increase your risk of
    developing a psychotic illness, such
    as schizophrenia, later in life.

    Using drugs may make you more likely
    to participate in other unsafe
    behaviors, such as sharing needles or
    having unprotected sex, which can
    increase your chances of contracting
    HIV or hepatitis. People who are
    addicted to drugs are also at a higher
    risk of overdosing because addicts
    need more and more of the drug to
    achieve the same feeling.

    February 10, 2009
  49. William Siemers said:

    Peter…drugs have some bad consequences…everyone agrees with that. Some people, a lot of people, use them anyway. Criminalizing this use has lead to worse consequences than the drugs themselves: The ravaging of many inner city neighborhoods, the highest incarceration rates in the world, death by overdose, disease, and a culture of violence. There’s got to be a better way.

    February 10, 2009
  50. Peter Millin said:

    William,

    I share your frustration on this, but I am not ready to give up yet.
    Legalizing drugs feels like giving up to me.

    February 10, 2009
  51. Anthony Pierre said:

    isn’t moving to the united states from a different country giving up too?

    February 10, 2009
  52. Peter Millin said:

    Anthony,

    Not if you find the love of your live and she happens to be American… The added bonus is, to live in the greatest country in the world.

    February 10, 2009