Teens forced to submit to breath test to enter homecoming dance

As adults, most of us likely remember this time of year when we were in high school. Sure, it may have been a bummer that school was in session, but there was also the excitement of the football season and the homecoming dance. Homecoming is generally the first dance of the year and provides memories for teens to carry into adulthood.

For a group of out-of-state teens, their homecoming memories from this year are a bit different than most. Beyond finding a date, getting dressed up and dancing with friends, they will have the addition of a required Breathalyzer test to look back on. The students and their parents are not happy about the surprise breath test requirement.

The incident occurred in Rhode Island. When students showed up to the dance they were faced with more than a ticket collector. In order to enter the dance, the kids were told that they must take a Breathalyzer test. Whereas most adults would know better than to just readily give in to such a demand, it’s easy to see why a teenager who is excited to get into a dance would feel pressured to follow the order.

Sources report that no students were caught with alcohol in their systems, but that point hasn’t stopped critics from coming down on the school for its actions. Upset parents argue that students’ rights were violated and that the surprise test is offensive to parents and their children. They argue that the act of requiring the test without notifying students or their parents assumed that the students were already guilty of drinking and that the parents weren’t doing a good job parenting.

Another important point argued by critics of the incident is that unqualified parties were issuing the Breathalyzer tests. History shows that even authorities who are trained in giving the breath tests make mistakes. Also, the devices can be faulty. Not only did the required tests put the kids at risk of becoming targets of underage drinking accusations, but it did so in such a reckless way due to the inexperience of those running the tests.

It is possible that this case will go to the state’s ACLU. If there is an update we will be sure to keep you informed. What do you think of this matter? Did the school cross a line?

Source: WPRO News, “Officials, parents at odds after breath tests given to kids without consent,” Dee DeQuattro, Oct. 8, 2012

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