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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 August 2006, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
US drugs tsar backs pupil tests
Cocaine
Drugs are not a 'fashion statement', a White House official says
Random drugs testing should be extended across UK schools and regarded as a matter of "responsible behaviour", a leading US official has said.

John Walters, director of drug control policy at the White House, said it was important to tell children substance abuse was not a "fashion statement".

He added that searches did not constitute an "invasion of privacy", according to the Guardian.

Mr Walters has met Schools Minister Jim Knight to discuss drugs policy.

Pilot scheme

Random testing has been introduced in some schools in Kent.

The former education secretary, Ruth Kelly, has spoken of its benefits.

In the Guardian, Mr Walters is quoted as saying: "Some schools in the United States say a child needs to have a TB test.

"It's not considered to be an invasion of privacy. It's responsible behaviour. I believe we're very close to be able to think about that in terms of substance abuse."

Up to 700 schools in the US had adopted random drug testing, he said.

Last month the education watchdog, Ofsted, warned that schools in England should do more to teach children about the dangers of drugs, tobacco and alcohol.

There was a "very mixed picture" across the country, with too little emphasis on the mental health problems linked to substance abuse, inspectors found.

A Department for Education and Skills spokesman said: "Many schools are doing excellent work in teaching children about the dangers of drugs.

"But there can never be room for complacency.

"Drugs have a devastating impact on young people's lives. Teachers know drugs can contribute to poor behaviour in the classroom and can mean young people are more likely to fail at school and drop out.

"That's why we are 100% committed to zero tolerance towards drugs both in and out of schools."


SEE ALSO
Schools 'must teach about drugs'
27 Jul 06 |  Education
Drugs tests in schools 'extreme'
31 May 06 |  Education

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