Civil libertarians and health experts have raised concerns over an elite Queensland private school’s decision to randomly drug test its students.
The Southport School (TSS) on the Gold Coast has written to parents advising them of the new policy, aimed at eliminating weekend drug use.
There are roughly 880 secondary students at TSS and all of them have a unique identification number.
At the beginning of each term, some of those numbers will be selected at random and the corresponding students will have to present to an on-site pathologist.
They will be required to provide a urine and saliva sample for testing.
The policy was hatched by the school’s headmaster, Greg Wain, who recently returned from a fact-finding tour of the United States.
“We have drug education programs and basically they work for a number of students but they don’t work for all students,” he said.
“The research shows that scare campaigns don’t work and we were then pointed in the direction of random drug testing as a possible way to prevent boys experimenting in the first instance.”
It is a daunting prospect, but Mr Wain says that is precisely the point.
“So if the boys know that we can detect it and they know they could get randomly tested, they’re telling me that that’s a very strong reason for them to say no, which is exactly what we want,” he said.
Mr Wain says while some people may say it is none of the school’s business, TSS is no ordinary school.
“If I see you or hear about you doing something on the weekend or the holidays that’s putting you at jeopardy or putting at risk and affecting your health, I personally have a moral and ethical motivation to stop that,” he said.
“So I’m going to get you in and I’m going to say, ‘hey I’m really worried about you and I want you to stop doing this’.
“We’re a community, we’re like a team, I call it team TSS, and if you’re on the team, this is what we expect of you and if you’re on the team, we’re going to really look after you.”