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Overview

In his 2004 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush reminded Congress and the Nation of our responsibility to help children make the right choices. "One of the worst decisions children can make," he said, "is to gamble their lives and futures on drugs." He cited the need to continue an aggressive, community-based effort to reduce demand for illegal drugs, noting that a vital part of that effort is drug testing in schools. The aim of testing, he explained, is not to punish children, "but to send them this message: 'We love you, and we don't want to lose you.'"

In the decade before the President took office, drug use had risen to alarming levels. Rates of use by young people had nearly doubled, as measured by those who reported having used drugs in the past month. Determined to fight this trend, the President set aggressive goals to reduce drug use in the United States.

That strategy is producing results. Overall teen drug use has declined significantly since 2001, as revealed by the latest national survey in the Monitoring the Future series. Current use of illicit drugs by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders combined has dropped 19 percent. The use of methamphetamine by students in those grades has declined by approximately one-third, according to the survey, which also found reduced use rates for marijuana, steroids, LSD, Ecstasy (MDMA), and certain club drugs.

This is good news indeed. Still, the fight to defeat drug use is far from over. Despite encouraging reductions in use, drugs remain a serious threat, especially to our children.

It is imperative that we do everything in our power to combat this menace, and to take advantage of the best tools available. Random student drug testing is such a tool.