Regarding "Searching children's bodies" (June 28, Editorial): Student involvement in extracurricular activities has been proven to reduce drug use. Forcing students to undergo degrading urine tests as a prerequisite will only discourage such activities.
Drug testing may also compel users of relatively harmless marijuana to switch to harder drugs to avoid testing positive. Marijuana is the only drug that stays in the human body long enough to make urinalysis a deterrent. A student who takes Ecstasy, cocaine, or heroin on Friday night will test clean on Monday.
The most commonly abused drug and the one most closely associated with violent behavior is almost impossible to detect with urinalysis. That drug is alcohol, and it takes far more student lives every year than all illegal drugs combined.
Instead of wasting money on counterproductive drug tests, schools should invest in reality-based drug education.
WashingtonProgram Officer, Drug Policy Alliance
In the Oklahoma case, 500 students were tested, yielding three positive results. Was it really worth $12,500 (at $25 a student) to identify three pot-smoking teenagers? What about the other 497 students, forced to perform one of the most personal acts under observation by strangers? Is this a positive experience for insecure adolescents?
David T. Wilkinson
I found your article, "Tough calls in child-soldier encounters" (June 17) interesting. However, child soldiers have been part of the battlefield for thousands of years.
American forces have "battled" child soldiers throughout the history of this nation. Many of the native American tribes were forced to turn to child warriors to defend their villages from US attacks.
In Vietnam, one of the problems constantly faced by US combat units in close contact with the population was knowing if the child to whom a soldier was handing a candy bar was also a Viet Cong guerrilla.
And, it is not just irregular forces that use child soldiers. Just before the collapse of Nazi Germany, Hitler armed the Hitler Youth and sent them to the front. American military reports record the capture of 11- and 12-year-old machine gunners.
By looking at the ways commanders, locally and otherwise, handled the issue in the past, we can come up with ways to handle the issue today.
Those who have no remorse about sending children to war should be prepared for the consequences. We are committing educated and highly trained warriors to the conflict. If we must kill children of the opposition, so be it. They, not us, have set the standards.
The shipment of spent nuclear fuel poses essentially no risk to the public and is needed if we are to solve the nuclear waste problem ("Moving nuclear waste," June 27). It is time to depoliticize the transportation and disposal of nuclear fuel. If an accident could somehow break open a container, radioactive material would not spread very far, because nuclear fuel consists of ceramic pellets in metal rods; thus there are no gases to release or liquids to spill.
Although the number of shipments seems large, there will be only a handful running through any one part of the country on a given week. What would be irresponsible is to allow the current situation of ever greater amounts of spent fuel to continue to accumulate at the 131 sites around the country.
Prof. Sheldon Landsberger
Austin, TexasNuclear and Radiation Engineering University of Texas
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