Martin over at drugsfutures takes a look at some of the screening and testing of teenagers going on in the United States. In particular they pick up on TeenScreen:
Substance abuse only appears as part of TeenScreen because it is said to be correlated with other mental health problems. But is this sort of testing going to spread and where does it leave trust, within families and in wider social groupings? Once there is a battery of questions that could reveal mental health problems, employers, universities and others might see the point in using it more widely. It could be used alongside genetic tests that suggest a propensity to addiction.
We, of course, still have the tricky debate about who should the results of any screening be shared with, and when. The DfES guidance to schools has this to say about involving parents and carers:
Research shows that parents/carers have a crucial role in preventing problem drug use. Young people are more likely to delay or avoid drug misuse when:
- family bonds are strong
- there are strong parental monitoring and clear family rules
- they can talk openly with their parents/carers.
Parents/carers also have an important role to play in supporting their
child’s drug education.
Elsewhere the guidance has this advice on confidentiality:
In managing drugs schools need to have regard to issues of confidentiality. Teachers cannot and should not promise total confidentiality. The boundaries of confidentiality should be made clear to pupils. If a pupil discloses information which is sensitive, not generally known, and which the pupil asks not to be passed on, the request should be honoured unless this is unavoidable in order for teachers to fulfil their professional responsibilities in relation to:
- child protection
- co-operating with a police investigation
- referral to external services.
Every effort should be made to secure the pupil’s agreement to the way in which the school intends to use any sensitive information.