Abington High School's Student Newspaper

The Green Wave Gazette

Blanket Breath Tests Before Dances?

Unnecessary, Unfair, Costly and Time Consuming

Someone+using+a+breathalyzer.
Someone using a breathalyzer.

Someone using a breathalyzer.

Marasmusine~Creative Commons

Marasmusine~Creative Commons

Someone using a breathalyzer.

Jill Meegan, Contributor

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Some people say that testing a student’s breath for alcoholic content using a breath analyzer (commonly known by its trademarked name – the Breathalyzer) is for their own safety. But, has anyone looked at the negative effects of using these devices?

Now that prom and spring dance season is upon us, school administrators are looking for the best ways to ensure the safety of students attending these events. One method under consideration (at some schools) requires them to take a breath test for blood alcohol levels before they enter the dance. I think this invades their constitutional rights, and although this might prevent underage drinking before dances, it does not stop what happens out of school.

According to Abington High School Assistant Principal Jessica Sullivan, the school does have access to alcohol content testing devices, but she has never had to use them in her five years at the school, and hopes she never has to. “The idea (approach we take) is to cultivate an atmosphere where the students don’t feel the need to consume drugs and alcohol before an event,” said Ms. Sullivan.

The school could have them on hand, but it is not necessary to test every student.”

— Jill Meegan

Let’s hope that continues. Just because students are attending a school event does not give administrators the right to invade their privacy. Not everyone who shows up to a school dance has consumed alcohol. Yes, the school could have them on hand, but it is not necessary to test every student. Some surrounding school districts, such as Brockton, Hull and Silver Lake, only test students that show major signs of intoxication. When you walk into a school event, there are teachers and sometimes even a police officer at the entrance. Knowing they will greet you when you check in should be enough to stop students from drinking. One student at AHS said, “I think they shouldn’t be required unless danger is brought upon someone or people around them.”

Another concern is the cost. Where would the money for testing come from? The average cost of an alcohol breath analyzer is $300. So, if there are three school dances that is around $900 a year, and $3,600 in a four year high school career. This money would most likely be paid from class funds, or parents’ tax money. Students and parents already spend money on suits and dresses, getting their hair done and buying flowers. Having to pay more will make students not want to attend these events, and not just because of the tests, but because of the cost.

Students want to attend the dances and have a good time. If every person who wants to enter any school dance has to be tested, it could take hours. By the time everyone gets tested, the dance will be almost over, and everyone has wasted a lot of money for a dance they didn’t get to enjoy.

Students only get one prom; it’s not something you can just redo. Let’s not ruin it by implementing unnecessary alcohol tests that are invasive, costly and time consuming.

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Abington High School's Student Newspaper
Blanket Breath Tests Before Dances?