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New Zealand’s schools continue with drug tests

WELLINGTON, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) — Sniffer dogs are being brought into schools for drug tests amid growing concern from police and education officials about the escalating number of the New Zealand children found in possession of drugs.

Last year, New Zealand’s schools stood down 1,184 pupils for drugs, suspended 815, and expelled 30, the Dominion Post newspaper rreported on Thursday.

New Zealand Education Ministry statistics dating back to 2006 show rates of stand-downs and expulsions for drugs have increased but suspensions have decreased.

Police used drug sniffer dogs in 12 schools in greater Wellington in the past eight months in an attempt to halt the trend.

Although some schools have taken a hard line on drug-use with suspensions and expulsions, the police – working with pupils, their caregivers and sometimes the school – have been trying a different approach by signing pupils up to “alternative-action contracts”.

The six-month contracts can require the pupil to undergo random urine tests to detect drugs, write essays on cannabis use and abuse, perform community work and undergo behavior and counseling reviews.

If they breached the contract, including failing a drug test, police would revisit the initial drug charge. The school could choose to expel the child.

The Post Primary Teachers Association, the secondary school teachers’ union, said it was pushing for more guidance counselors, social workers and programs to support parents and families.


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