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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With drug abuse on the rise, should parents be required by law to test their children? One Long Island lawmaker says yes.
Assemblyman Joseph Saladino (R-Massapequa) has introduced a bill that would require parents of high school students to give their children annual drug tests.
“If they dont do it, the student would not be allowed into school,” Saladino told CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan.
The proposal would mandate that parents administer the test and sign a statement swearing it was performed. The results wouldn’t be disclosed — not even to the school.
“Ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th grades — the parent has to sign a form that is handed into the school district that states
they have conducted a drug test on their child, and that they have seen the results,” said Saladino, who later added it’s up to the parents to decide what to do with the results.
Saladino said the drug test would help parents find out if there is a problem and whether treatment should be sought.
“We want to make sure that parents have the tools they need to determine if there’s an addiction problem with a serious drug — we’re talking heroin, barbiturates, opiates — the kinds of drugs that lead to death,” Saladino said.
He claimed the bill is designed to assist parents.
“Once a teen becomes 18-years-old, they’re an adult, and parents lose all control of the situation and are not able to get them into rehab,” Saladino said. “This helps parents identify the problem early.”
Saladino said he was prodded to act by the wave of drug-related deaths on Long Island. Both Jonathan Sieczkowski and Natalie Ciappa are from Massapequa and both died of heroin overdoses. Both families back the bill.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” Vic Ciappa said when asked if he thinks home drug testing would have saved his daughter’s life. “Remember she was already addicted by the time we realized what was going on”
But civil libertarians and some parents oppose the idea of making children urinate for a drug test.
“No way; no way, and that’s an invasion of privacy right there,” Steve Willers said.
However, there are other parents on Long Island that said that testing teens annually is not enough.
“Once a year is not going to do anything,” the father of a 16-year-old girl said. “They’re not going to do drugs for a week, they’re going to get drug tested and then they could do drugs for a whole year. It makes no sense.”
“If it becomes law, the potential benefit is that parents would be forced to have a conversation that they frequently postpone,” said Jeffrey Reynolds of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
A spokesman for the ACLU has not commented directly on the Saladino bill but pointed out it has sued to overturn high school drug testing programs in Pennsylvania and other states.
The bill does not yet have a sponsor in the state senate.
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