Should Schools Give Teens Breathalyzer Tests?

Education Always Begins At Home

It seems like a right of passage in high school; be it sneaking into a dance a little tipsy or smuggling some alcohol along on a basketball game trip, trying to get away with drinking is fairly common.  What’s a school to do?

Recently, the Kamloops-Thompson school district applied for a change in their policy for how the schools deal with drinkers during school hours and extra-curricular activities, by demanding that students give a breathalyzer sample. Students who are suspected of being intoxicated can be required to give a breath sample, and refusing would mean punishment as if the student was guilty, which would include suspension.

Breathalyzers aren’t uncommon in schools across the country, according to the Kamloops-Thompson superintendent Terry Sullivan. High schools often have trouble with intoxicated students at dances, and in some districts have had to cancel holding them altogether. However, the policy doesn’t apply to just dances, it clearly applies to school hours as well.

As parents, we all hope that our kids make the right choices and don’t show up to school or even school events intoxicated; however, if they do, does the school really need to have proof via a breathalyzer to make their point?  In many schools, if the students are even suspected of being intoxicated, they can be sent home. No, kids shouldn’t be drinking, but they aren’t being charged with anything, and there is room for error. Also, what’s the point? Does the school need concrete proof, and if so, why? The kids can be sent home anyway, so it doesn’t seem to make much sense.

Besides, a breathalyzer isn’t going to catch the kids who went out back and chose to get high.

On the other hand, I know that it can’t be a picnic for school staff to be dealing with intoxicated teenagers. I doubt they want to be put in the role of police, but it seems as though some schools feel that they don’t have any other choice.

If so many kids are coming to school drunk that dances need to be cancelled, then the issues go much farther than typical underage drinking.  Perhaps the community needs to get together as a whole—parents, kids, police, and schools, and find a way to fix it.

No breathalyzer is a substitute for the power of community.

What do you think? Would a breath test have deterred you as a teen? As a parent, are you comfortable with schools demanding them from your kids? Or are they a job better suited for the police?

She may go by the name Scatteredmom online, but Karen really is anything but scattered when it comes to the kitchen.  Churning out tasty treats within view of the Georgia Strait on Canada's west coast, Karen will hand you an organized weekly meal plan or teach you how to make meals from scratch.  As Mom to a teenage boy, she knows exactly what it takes to keep kids full and happy-which has really come in handy with her job as the Food Editor at Yummy Mummy Club.

A strong supporter of Food Revolution who has been endorsed by Jamie Oliver himself, by day Karen can be found working as a special education teaching assistant, running a kitchen and showing teenagers how to cook nutritious meals for themselves.  By night, when she's not chatting on Twitter and answering cooking questions,  she writes her popular blog Notes From the Cookie Jar, or posting mouthwatering recipes over at Chasing Tomatoes.  Not afraid to give her opinion and passionate about community, Karen spoke at Blissdom Canada 2010 and her writing has been published in Canadian Living magazine, as well as in various online publications. 

Follow Karen on Twitter @scatteredmom