Newspaper clipping – Cape Argus – 5 June 2009

Drug tests see schools call for help

Random drug testing has started in local schools with a number contacting the Safe Schools call centre to ask for help with referring pupils for rehabilitation and counseling.

About 125 of the 1668 referrals to the SA National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) in the Western Cape for the year to March, came directly from schools, Sanca said. Dr David Fourie, Sanca’s regional manager, said many other referrals came from parents and other family members seeking treatment for relatives aged 18 and younger. Some of the clients who had been treated in Sanca’s outpatient treatment programme were as young as seven to 13.
“There is definitely a problem and we are worried,” Fourie said.

Namiran Khan, manager of the Safe Schools Division, said the call centre had dealt with about 10 cases in the past three weeks from schools that had implemented drug testing.
“We assist them in referring pupils for counseling and rehabilitation,” she said.

A number of schools had already started conducting random drug testing in line with the Education Laws Amendment Act, gazetted in 2007, which allows principals or a person delegated by the principal to conduct these tests in case of reasonable suspicion of drug use.

Some teachers at the province’s 109 high-risk schools would start training at the end of term in the use of drug-testing devices and procedures to be followed, Khan said. More teachers at these schools would be trained in the third term. The training would be conducted by Safe Schools and the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention. Khan said briefings with district officials and principals had already taken place.

In September, details of 10 devices for drug testing in schools, and the procedures to be followed in using the devices, were published in the Government Gazette. Several, but not all, require urine samples and some are able to detect several substances of abuse in one test.

Khan said the average cost per unit was R60, and that school governing bodies had to carry the cost of the kits.
“We want to support young people and assist them in getting help and prevent them from being addicted to substances. It happens that children are addicted and their parents only find out years later,” Khan said.