Skellefteå's school drug tests: take two

After the Christmas break, there will be a review of drug testing at Skellefteå's high schools.
After the Christmas break, there will be a review of drug testing at Skellefteå's high schools.

The controversial proposed drug tests at Skellefteå's upper secondary/high schools didn't really get going last year – now there's going to be a fresh start. "The intention is not to catch anyone," says acting high school chief Birgitta Lindström.

Skellefteå 20 november 2023 12:15

Last year, random and voluntary drug testing was introduced in Skellefteå's high schools. However, only one testing session took place, so the municipality is now planning to try again.

– We had one testing session, but we didn't continue with it. This is because the majority of the randomly selected students did not have the consent of their parents, says Birgitta Lindström, acting chief for upper secondary education in Skellefteå municipality.

– This could be due to various reasons, such as the information not reaching them, the parents not giving their consent, or the parents intending to give their consent but forgetting. So it didn't happen as planned.

Birgitta Lindström, acting high school chief in Skellefteå municipality.

This school year, the municipality has been more explicit in its communication and has received many more parental consents.

– However, a reorganization of student health services has caused us to wait, but there is an implementation plan after the Christmas break. There's a demand for the tests in schools, from students and teachers, says Lindström.

The proposal to introduce random and voluntary drug testing in Skellefteå's high schools was controversial when it was first introduced, as Norran has reported on several occasions.

The municipal council approved it in 2018, but the Left Party appealed to both the Administrative Court of Appeal and the Supreme Administrative Court. Several politicians questioned whether the tests would be truly voluntary in practice. If a student refuses and is a minor, his or her guardian will be notified.

The test is unsupervised, meaning the student goes to the bathroom, closes the door, and urinates into a container. The student then pours the urine into a container. Results are available in a few minutes.

Selection is done by lottery. Teachers are not informed of the test results, but the principal is if the result is positive, and then an action plan is developed to help the student overcome his or her addiction.

Lindström emphasizes that the intention is not to "catch" anyone.

– The work is preventive in nature and aims to encourage young people to choose not to use drugs. We want to maintain a safe school environment and encourage parents to give their consent, she says.                                                                                                          

The tests are voluntary and taken randomly.

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