SLINGER, Wisconsin – Plans for random drug testing of high school students involved in extracurricular activities have fallen by the wayside as the focus has shifted to prevention.
The Slinger School Board endorsed a plan Monday to develop a community wide program that would attack risky behavior by youths.
“It’s a tough issue, and progress doesn’t come easily,” said Slinger High School Principal Paul Nelsen, who made a presentation to the board about the results of a survey of 1,310 students in grades six to 12.
The survey analyzed risk-taking behaviors as well as “developmental assets” that help prevent such behaviors.
Nelsen said the ideal is for children to have at least 31 of a possible 40 assets. Assets include family support, caring neighborhoods and reading for pleasure. In Slinger, students averaged 19 assets; only 13% of the students reported having 31 or more assets.
In addition, among high school students, 29% said they were involved in binge drinking, 22% had tried marijuana in the past year, 35% used tobacco and 27% were sexually active.
More than 60% of high school seniors reported using alcohol, and about 46% had ridden as a passenger with a drunk driver.
John Roever, assistant district administrator, said random drug testing of students involved in extracurricular activities would not solve the biggest problem, alcohol use, because tests cannot detect it.
“We found that our solution wouldn’t solve the problem,” Roever said. “What flabbergasted me is the drinking and driving.”
Nelsen said a community wide coalition would focus on increasing the number of assets that prevent children from using drugs or alcohol.
The high school is seeking a grant to fund the program, and the Washington County Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse has agreed to provide leadership for the proposed coalition.