Random drug tests at vocational schools

Practice can make young people feel stigmatised, argues Aarhus University professor

Every third vocational school in Denmark reserves the right to drug-test their students, reveals a survey carried out by Politiken Research among 73 schools.

While most schools only check students who they have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ about, others apply random urine testing. Those who repeatedly test positive may end up being expelled.

“We can’t have students who are under the influence of drugs,” Peter Amstrup, the head of the Danish association for vocational school leaders, told Politiken.

“And certainly not in programs where they move around machines that can be dangerous to operate.”

Stigmatising experience
However, Torsten Kolind, a professor at the centre for alcohol and drug research at Aarhus University, believes urine drug tests at schools are a bad idea.

He argues negatively affect trust between students and teachers, and that young people can also feel stigmatised.

Kolind suggests schools should instead arrange for occasional police visits with sniffer dogs.

Greenland’s education minister, Nivi Olsen, recently presented a bill to give all educational institutions and residence halls on the island the right to test students for drug use.