HairConfirm drug test could create sneaky parents, child psychologist says;
* Hair drug testing marketed to parents
* Fears parents won't seek permission
* 'Could create trust issues in families'
A NEW hair drug testing kit marketed to parents could destroy trust in families and raises serious privacy concerns, Australian experts say.
The home "hair drug test" product HairConfirm allows parents to see if their children have been using a variety of drugs including marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and heroin, according to US-based manufacturer Confirm Biosciences.
The company also says it can also test the frequency of use and is far more accurate than urine and saliva tests as evidence of drugs remain in hair follicles for up to 90 days.
But child and adolescent psychologist Kimberley O’Brien said the product could be dangerous for families.
"I have images of parents sneaking into bedrooms in the middle of the night and snipping off hair," Dr O’Brien said.
"(If that happened) it would be an instant violation of trust, and that can really impact on the relationship.
"You need to have a culture of trust."
She said talking to teenagers about drugs could be a more beneficial way of addressing parent’s concerns.
The drug testing kit should only be used when a child was willing to take it, she said.
"It might be a way to ease parents concerns."
The test kit, which can be bought online, allows parents to take a sample of a child’s hair and wrap it in a special foil.
The sample is then sent to a laboratory in the US to be screened, and test results are made available after two days.
Zeynep Ilgaz, CEO of Confim Biosciences, said discussing drugs and taking the test could be beneficial to families.
"HairConfirm is designed to help parents take a proactive role in preventing their children’s drug use," Ms Ilgaz said.
But Bill Rowlings, CEO of Civil Liberties Australia, said parents shouldn’t be too proactive if children didn’t want to be involved in the tests.
"The test involves cutting a kid's hair low down, so it would be a serious invasion of a child's body and privacy if it was done without permission while the kid was asleep," Mr Rowlings said.
"If a parent did it, and the result came back positive, they'd still have to talk to the child. The issue would become the adult's invasion of the kid's space and person, and secrecy, not the problem of drug-taking by the child.
"It's probably better, simpler and wiser to talk with the child first…and certainly cheaper."
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