Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

July 13, 2013

Most in favor of random drug testing at schools

Debbie Blank
The Herald-Tribune

---- — The vast majority of area residents think illegal drug use by teens and younger kids here is a problem. In the Coalition for a Drug-Free Batesville Community Perception Survey that citizens answered online in January, 54.8 percent strongly agreed and 34.2 percent agreed that "substance abuse among youth is a serious issue in the community."

Fewer respondents – 85.9 percent – stated that "youth alcohol use is a slightly big or extremely big problem" in the Batesville area.

Results were reviewed by CDFB members at the July 8 meeting. Seven hundred and eighty adults completed the survey, 72.8 percent living in Batesville, Oldenburg and Morris. "I was very pleased with the number of responses that we got," coordinator Kim Linkel said at the Feb. 11 meeting.

Almost 91 percent said they would support a community coalition to address alcohol and drug issues here. Since Batesville’s Community Issues Committee was formed May 24, 2011, to combat the use of especially heroin and other illegal drugs, the group, led then by Batesville Community School Corp. superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts, has sponsored two public forums, created a Web site (www.notgoingtotakeitbatesville.com) with lots of information and posted billboards.

The all-volunteer committee met with five Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati representatives Feb. 23, 2012. That summer members decided to change the name from CIC to Coalition for a Drug-Free Batesville and begin applying for grants. The executive committee is led by Mayor Rick Fledderman and Police Chief Stan Holt.

How many area residents would support schools requiring drug testing of students prior to participation in voluntary activities? A whopping 88.2 percent reported they are in favor.

At the June 3 CDFB meeting, the superintendent said he has spoken to superintendents of nearby districts about the topic. "There is more and more … willingness to go toward random drug testing .... It is not creating the same angst” it used to.

Coalition member Carla Enzinger of Batesville Tool & Die felt it is more popular now for employers also to perform drug testing.

Roberts wondered about the frequency and cost of testing. People have urged him to “'drug screen them all.' We can’t do that.” Because education is a state requirement, trustees could approve a policy in the future that would test athletes on school teams, students who drive to school and those who take part in extracurricular activities. Linkel reported a nearby school will test a child at a parent’s request and the parent pays the cost.

Roberts pointed out if screenings are implemented, it gives students another "reason ... to say no” to an illegal substance.

In the survey, 81.3 percent of respondents stated they would not allow youth to drink in their homes even if they collected all the keys and felt everyone was safe.

The majority were not in favor of their kids going to parties where alcohol was being served. Eighty-five percent reported that they would be extremely or slightly unlikely to allow their child to attend a friend's un-chaperoned party vs. 75 percent reporting this would be the case if the party was chaperoned.

Yet just 37.6 percent had spoken with their children within the month before the survey about attending parties where alcohol was available.

There is still more of a stigma here with taking illegal drugs than drinking liquor. Ninety-nine percent said they would be "extremely or slightly upset" if their children were caught using drugs, much higher than the 85.8 percent who stated they would feel the same way if their kids was found drinking.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.