Extracurricular Activities


Well, this is totally beyond the pale: Eugene Volokh links to a Newsday article about a New York public school that required eighth grade girls to submit to pregnancy and STD tests after blowing off school for a "hooky party" at which there was reported to have been "sexual activity," on pain of indefinite suspension. The male student who attended wasn't subject to the STD test requirement. Unsurprisingly, the NYCLU has filed suit. Between that and the increasing prevalence of mandatory drug testing for student athletes or club participants, maybe it'd be more efficient to just install Gattaca-style blood-drawing machines at each desk.

NEXT: "Absorptive Capacity" Revisited

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  1. Three words: baby-boomer guilt. After breaking all the rules that their parents set for them, these over-the-hill self-indulgent brats are frightened of the possibility that their kids might act the same way. So they support all sorts of draconian and/or puritanical policies to soothe their wretched consciensces. Not to mention vote themselves all sorts of entitlements at the expense of their kids’ futures.

  2. “Attention students… this morning’s urinalysis period will be delayed until after the school authorities perform a locker search to locate contraband urine. All students are to remain at their desks until the search has concluded. That is all.”

  3. Back when I was in High School here in Alabama a few years ago, every now and then the teachers would tell us “Ok, today, no one is allowed to leave for the first 45 minutes of class,” and we’d see several police and their dogs outside in the halls…


  4. Robert,

    When I was in school in Arizona back in the late 80s, they did it much more efficiently — they simply brought in enough cops and dogs to run past all the lockers within a few minutes. There were never any announcements; you just heard a little more noise than usual from the hall.


  5. Well, I can understand the male student not being given a pregnancy test, but it sounds like the girls could have an 14th amendment-equal protection challenge as well, if they are being held to a different standard than the boy- in addition to the 4th amendment “search/privacy” challenge, which courts don’t seem to think apply to children and teens. Lawyer types, am I right?

  6. It’s tragic that we’ve come to live in a country where school administrators can search school property for contraband without the students’ permission. What’s next? Letting parents order kids around? I blame it on the PATRIOT Act and John Ashcroft.

  7. It’s obvious that Christopher Hitchens was never enrolled in a US public school.

  8. Aspis, did you bother to read the article in Newsday? Search school property? Sure, fine. They own it, search away. But no one, and certainly not a school, has a right to subject a student to medical testing.

  9. Isn’t there some sort of medical privacy law in NY that makes this illegal?

  10. Too tired to argue the big points here.
    Just to note that the confrontation must have been fun. You can make a teenage girl cry by asking her if she’s on her period; imagine what this is like.
    While we’re at it, what the Hell business is it of the school if the little tramps got knocked up? STDs aren’t airborne, that’s why they’re called STDs.
    I think the principal was indulging the sort of instinct that motivates the Turkish Police to give virginity tests to randomly selected girls.
    Sounds like a good Christian.

  11. Sounds to me like the school took the ‘en loco parentis’ thing to far here. I’d be pretty upset if they ordered by daughter to undergo STD and pregnancy testing without my knowledge or consent, probably more so than I’d be upset about whatever she did to get that treatment.

    Teenagers don’t have the same rights as adults, but the adults that do have more rights are their parents. Seems to me they should have been consulted about what the school knew had happened and it should be left to the parents to decide what to do about it.

    Even though as a parent I have the right to invade my child’s privacy, and I may also have the right to grant such permissions to teachers or school officials, I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to do so (vis a vis school drug testing etc.). There was a TV show recently about parents using webcams to spy on their children when they weren’t home and several kids getting caught (surprise!) doing things they shouldn’t have. The kids interviewed had mixed feeling about it (also ‘surprise’ – hope the sarcasm is getting through). The ‘child psychology experts’ interviewed by the news reporter apparently all felt that this type of privacy invasive behavior was psychologically damaging by reducing or eliminating trust in the relationship between parents and children. For once I have to agree with these folks. Yeah, you’re going to catch your kids doing things you don’t want them to by secretly spying on them, but long term I don’t think it’s the best thing for you or them. I also don’t think it bodes well for liberty in the future that we take young adults (kids who think they are adults, and to some extent have adult reasoning capabilities) and condition them to submitting to random and unreasonable searches. After several more generations go by, will people even question it anymore? It will seem pretty normal to allow the government to look into whatever they want when you’ve grown up with no expectation of privacy from either your family or from people in authority. This should bother everyone, even those who worry their teenagers are drinking, smoking or fornicating.

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