Testing kids for drugs at school does not deter them from using marijuana or experimenting with other drugs, according to a new study.
The study, published in the journal Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that high schoolers who attended schools with drug testing were equally likely to try marijuana, cigarettes or alcohol as students who went to schools without drug testing policies.
The researchers interviewed 361 high school students, and asked them about their substance use as well as their school environment. They followed up with the students a year later, and discovered that drug testing did not appear to have much of an effect on the students’ usage.
About 20% of U.S. high schools have drug testing, the researchers report, but that’s not the greatest factor in keeping kids drug-free. Instead, researchers found that students who felt their school was a positive environment were less likely to try drugs. These students were 20% less likely to report trying marijuana and 15% less likely to smoke cigarettes compared to students who did not describe their school as positive. School environment had no impact on drinking habits.