Anybody who doesn't think the area has a drug problem is fooling only themselves.

Drug arrests occur regularly throughout the region. Those arrested don't represent a specific income status or race or age group. They are from both rich and poor families. Those arrested include young people, teens, middle-aged individuals, and even senior citizens. Professionals are arrested as well as laborers and the unemployed.

So common are drug arrests that they generally only make a paragraph or two in the police log or court news of daily newspapers. Some newspapers choose not to even mention them unless the contraband is of large scale.

Because of such prevalence of drugs in the area, there's nothing wrong with school district implementing drug testing policies. Tamaqua Area School District adopted a drug and alcohol testing policy for students participating in extra curricular activities or seeking parking privileges.

Palmerton Area School District is considering enacting such a policy.

Such a policy should be extended to coaches. We don't suspect any illegal drug activity with coaches but if students must adhere to such regulations, so should the coaching staffs.

Without reading the policy, it should include provisions that the testing can occur randomly at any time during the season.

The policy might keep youngsters who are borderline on whether or not to use drugs from trying them.

It might turn around the life of a student who has become dependent on illegal substances.

Such drug testing also prepares students to enter the work force since many employers have stringent drug testing policies.

Mostly, it could prevent injury or even death. A student taking drugs might be more vulnerable to injury on the field to himself or another player - in practice or during a game.

Any policy adopted should include a provision that rehabilitation can occur and make an individual eligible for priviligies if such intervention proves successful.

Allowing drug testing on students is a way of telling the youngsters we care about them; that we want to do all we can to keep them safe.

It's also a way of keeping druggies from infiltrating our athletic fields and student parking lots.

Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com