Parents oppose drug tests

KINGSTON — A proposal by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to subject high-school athletes to drug testing is not finding favour with some parents.

The proposal was put forward by Simpson Miller in Parliament on Tuesday, just days after news broke that five Jamaican athletes, including high-profile sprinters Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson, had tested positive for banned substances.

Yesterday, Kirk Grey, who is making preparation to send his child to Wolmer’s High School for Boys come September, said he found distasteful the idea of having his son – an avid sports competitor – tested for drugs in high school.

“For children at that age, it is more about the competition and less about the money. Athletes who are in the business for money, you will find them taking the drugs but not the children,” Grey argued.

“To have them being tested paints a picture that Jamaica is a drug country and this is what our children are doing.”

Grey suggested that instead of going that route, the Government should embark on a rigorous campaign to educate children about the dangers of drugs, particularly in sports.

“Just as how we know that children are having sex in schools and we refuse to give them condoms and choose instead to educate them about sex, I think it is the same thing,” he said. “The testing needs to hold off at least for now, and start with the education aspect of it.”

Another parent, Marsha Campbell-Clarke, while labelling the idea as “ridiculous”, said she would want to be guided by an education campaign before taking a definitive stance on the matter.

“I am worried about whatever psychological impact this can have on my child and I don’t like what it is saying about our children, but I would like to know more about it through whatever education campaign is there,” Campbell-Clarke said.

“I mean, I still think it’s ridiculous, but if that’s the standard, I would not want my child to be deprived of his career because of how I feel.”

The prime minister, during her statement to Parliament, had indicated that the Government would ramp up the public-education programme in high schools and begin the process of sensitising stakeholders at the primary level. (Gleaner)

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