CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As America fights the "War on Drugs," random drug searches have become normal at high schools nationwide. Many students experience a school lockdown at least once per year to allow a drug dog to search for drugs within their school. These searches often inspire debate amongst students as to what their rights are during the searches, if the searches are even constitutional and what exactly is wrong with over-the-counter pain medications.
According to the courts, random drug searches in schools are constitutional. The courts say students have protected rights to privacy, but schools are expected to uphold a safe and structured learning environment, so illegal substances are not permitted and drug searches are allowed.
"[Drug searches] are useful, but it is kind of annoying [with] people getting in your lockers," said Pocahontas County High School junior Kessler Pritt. Junior Brandon Squires agreed.
There are some restrictions to protect students' rights during a drug search. For instance, drug dogs are allowed to search the school, but they are not allowed to search an individual without reasonable suspicion. It may put some students' minds at ease to know they do have their right to privacy during these random searches.
Pocahontas County junior Kindra Carr agrees with drug searches. As a preventive measure, she said, "They help stop a lot of [drug use]."
Priscilla Grimes, a senior, agreed with Carr and added, "They should definitely do [drug searches] for sports."
Drug searching athletes and drug searching students are very different, though. In the 1995 U.S. Supreme Court case Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, the court upheld random drug testing (which is considered a drug search) for athletes because, among other reasons, athletes participate in sports by personal choice and athletes under the influence of drugs could put themselves and other players at a greater risk of injury.
One of the major issues students see with the school system's involvement in the "War on Drugs" is the ban on over-the-counter pain medications like aspirin. Some students feel banning these medications is unnecessary. Students use them for headaches, sports injuries, menstrual cramps, pain from orthodontic braces, the common cold and many other health issues they may have.
Many students believe it would be more convenient to be able to pull these drugs out of their locker, take a couple pills and head to class pain free, but the Pocahontas County High School student handbook states, "Any medication, prescription or over-the-counter, must be brought to the office in its original container," meaning students are not allowed to personally administer over-the-counter pain medications to themselves.
Overall, drug use is an issue in America, and many students seem to agree that random drug searches in schools are an effective prevention measure, even though they could be tweaked to better meet the medical needs of students.